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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Jun 22;14(7). pii: E669. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14070669.

Animal-Assisted Interventions in the Classroom-A Systematic Review.

Author information

1
School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN6 7TS, UK. vbrelsford@lincoln.ac.uk.
2
School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN6 7TS, UK. kmeints@lincoln.ac.uk.
3
Department of Psychology, State University of New York, Fredonia, NY 14063, USA. nancy.gee@fredonia.edu.
4
WALTHAM™ Centre for Pet Nutrition, Waltham-on-the-Wolds, Melton Mowbray, Leicstershire LE14 4RT, UK. nancy.gee@fredonia.edu.
5
School of Psychology, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN6 7TS, UK. KPeffer@lincoln.ac.uk.

Abstract

The inclusion of animals in educational practice is becoming increasingly popular, but it is unclear how solid the evidence for this type of intervention is. The aim of this systematic review is to scrutinise the empirical research literature relating to animal-assisted interventions conducted in educational settings. The review included 25 papers; 21 from peer-reviewed journals and 4 obtained using grey literature databases. Most studies reported significant benefits of animal-assisted interventions in the school setting. Despite this, studies vary greatly in methods and design, in intervention types, measures, and sample sizes, and in the length of time exposed to an animal. Furthermore, a worrying lack of reference to risk assessment and animal welfare must be highlighted. Taken together, the results of this review show promising findings and emerging evidence suggestive of potential benefits related to animals in school settings. The review also indicates the need for a larger and more robust evidence base driven by thorough and strict protocols. The review further emphasises the need for safeguarding for all involved-welfare and safety are paramount.

KEYWORDS:

animal-assisted intervention; children; classroom; dog; learning; school

PMID:
28640200
PMCID:
PMC5551107
DOI:
10.3390/ijerph14070669
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest. Nancy Gee was employed by the funding agency at the time the project was selected and funded. Nancy Gee played no role in data collection or analysis. The funding sponsors had no role in the design of the review; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to publish the results.

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