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Animal-Assisted Therapy: A Meta-Analysis

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Abstract:

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been practiced for many years and there is now increasing interest in demonstrating its efficacy through research. To date, no known quantitative review of AAT studies has been published; our study sought to fill this gap. We conducted a comprehensive search of articles reporting on AAT in which we reviewed 250 studies, 49 of which met our inclusion criteria and were submitted to meta-analytic procedures. Overall, AAT was associated with moderate effect sizes in improving outcomes in four areas: Autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. Contrary to expectations, characteristics of participants and studies did not produce differential outcomes. AAT shows promise as an additive to established interventions and future research should investigate the conditions under which AAT can be most helpful.

Keywords: AAT; ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY; META-ANALYSIS

Document Type: Review Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279307X224773

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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