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Special Issue "Animal Assisted Interventions and Activites for Health and Wellbeing"

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Jo Williams

Centre for Applied Developmental Psychology, Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Edinburgh, Doorway 6 Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: applied developmental psychology; children’s interactions with animals; child and adolescent mental health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Evidence is emerging, from a range of disciplines, on the positive impact of animals on human health and wellbeing. Interactions with animals and ownership of pets have been demonstrated to affect health among adults and the elderly. Research on younger populations is limited and there have been calls for further research to explore how pets influence child and adolescent health and development. Research on the “pet effect” on health is growing but many questions remain unanswered.

Research on animal assisted interventions, therapies and activities has a core role in this research area. While the practice of animal assisted interventions is growing, scientific research is needed to measure the impact on health and wellbeing and to explain the physiological and psychological mechanisms involved. Where research has been systematically reviewed there is evidence of positive effects, but the overall quality of research is often revealed to be weak.

This Special Issue will synthesize the evidence on the impact of animal assisted interventions for health and wellbeing. It will explore the impact of different types of animal assisted interventions, therapies and activities. It will consider the efficacy of animal assisted interventions for different groups, including: children and young people, the elderly, those with learning disabilities, and specific clinical groups. This Special Issue will provide a robust evidence-base to inform future practice and research.

Dr Jo Williams
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • animal assisted interventions
  • pet effect
  • animal assisted therapy
  • animal assisted activities
  • human-animal interactions
  • health
  • wellbeing
  • mental Health
  • disabilities

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Therapeutic Horseback Riding Crossover Effects of Attachment Behaviors with Family Pets in a Sample of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 256; doi:10.3390/ijerph14030256
Received: 20 January 2017 / Revised: 10 February 2017 / Accepted: 20 February 2017 / Published: 3 March 2017
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Abstract
The unique needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have implications for animal welfare. This nested pilot study examined the effects of a randomized trial of 10-week therapeutic horseback riding (THR) intervention versus a no-horse barn activity (BA) control group on children’s
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The unique needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have implications for animal welfare. This nested pilot study examined the effects of a randomized trial of 10-week therapeutic horseback riding (THR) intervention versus a no-horse barn activity (BA) control group on children’s behaviors with family pets. Sixty-seven (THR n = 31; BA n = 36) participants with ASD (ages 6–16 years) with one or more family pet, were enrolled from a larger trial (n = 116) following their randomization to intervention groups, stratified by nonverbal intellectual ability. A consistent caregiver completed questionnaires about participants’ interactions with their household pets pre- and post-intervention. Caregivers of THR group participants reported significant improvements in participants’ caring actions with the family pet compared with the BA group (p = 0.013; effect size = 0.74). Engaging with horses during a standard THR intervention protocol may generalize to improving caring actions toward family pets in children and adolescents with ASD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Interventions and Activites for Health and Wellbeing)

Review

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Open AccessReview Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 234; doi:10.3390/ijerph14030234
Received: 23 November 2016 / Revised: 16 January 2017 / Accepted: 20 February 2017 / Published: 27 February 2017
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Abstract
Childhood and adolescence are important developmental phases which influence health and well-being across the life span. Social relationships are fundamental to child and adolescent development; yet studies have been limited to children’s relationships with other humans. This paper provides an evidence review for
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Childhood and adolescence are important developmental phases which influence health and well-being across the life span. Social relationships are fundamental to child and adolescent development; yet studies have been limited to children’s relationships with other humans. This paper provides an evidence review for the potential associations between pet ownership and emotional; behavioural; cognitive; educational and social developmental outcomes. As the field is in the early stages; a broad set of inclusion criteria was applied. A systematic search of databases and grey literature sources found twenty-two studies meeting selection criteria. The review found evidence for an association between pet ownership and a wide range of emotional health benefits from childhood pet ownership; particularly for self-esteem and loneliness. The findings regarding childhood anxiety and depression were inconclusive. Studies also showed evidence of an association between pet ownership and educational and cognitive benefits; for example, in perspective-taking abilities and intellectual development. Evidence on behavioural development was unclear due to a lack of high quality research. Studies on pet ownership and social development provided evidence for an association with increased social competence; social networks; social interaction and social play behaviour. Overall, pet ownership and the significance of children’s bonds with companion animals have been underexplored; there is a shortage of high quality and longitudinal studies in all outcomes. Prospective studies that control for a wide range of confounders are required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Interventions and Activites for Health and Wellbeing)
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