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ILAR J. 2010;51(3):199-207.

Mainstreaming animal-assisted therapy.

Author information

1
Human-Animal Relationships Program, Center for Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA. lpalley@partners.org

Abstract

The term animal-assisted therapy (AAT) commonly refers to the presentation of an animal to one or more persons for the purpose of providing a beneficial impact on human health or well-being. AAT is an ideal example of "One Health" because of numerous studies and widespread testimonials indicating that many humans feel better in the presence of pets and other domesticated animals, and, conversely, that some of those creatures appear to respond positively to human company for their emotional and perhaps physical betterment. Many AAT studies have claimed a wide range of human health benefits, but much of the research is characterized by small-scale interventions among disparate fields, resulting in criticisms about weak study design or inconsistent methodology. Such criticisms contrast with the strongly held belief among many that interaction with friendly animals has a strong and innate value for the persons involved. Consequently the appeal of AAT in human medicine today may be generally characterized as a "push" by enthusiastic advocates rather than a "pull" by prescribing physicians. To fully integrate AAT into conventional medical practice as an accepted therapeutic modality, more convincing intervention studies are necessary to confirm its clinical merits, along with an understanding of the underlying mechanism of the human response to the company of friendly animals.

PMID:
21131720
DOI:
10.1093/ilar.51.3.199
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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