Animal-assisted therapy in adults: A systematic review

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018 Aug:32:169-180. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.06.011. Epub 2018 Jun 28.


Animal-assisted therapies have become widespread with programs targeting a variety of pathologies and populations. Despite its popularity, it is unclear if this therapy is useful. The aim of this systematic review is to establish the efficacy of Animal assisted therapies in the management of dementia, depression and other conditions in adult population. A search was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, LILACS, ScienceDirect, and Taylor and Francis, OpenGrey, GreyLiteratureReport, ProQuest, and DIALNET. No language or study type filters were applied. Conditions studied included depression, dementia, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, stroke, spinal cord injury, and schizophrenia. Only articles published after the year 2000 using therapies with significant animal involvement were included. 23 articles and dissertations met inclusion criteria. Overall quality was low. The degree of animal interaction significantly influenced outcomes. Results are generally favorable, but more thorough and standardized research should be done to strengthen the existing evidence.

Keywords: Animal assisted therapy; Dementia; Depression; Multiple sclerosis; PTSD; Spinal cord injury.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animal Assisted Therapy*
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans