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Animal-assisted interventions in universities: a scoping review of implementation and associated outcomes

Summary With levels of stress and anxiety rising among the university community, universities worldwide are implementing animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) on campus. However, to date, little is known about how to implement these initiatives. Questions also remain as to the impact of evaluated AAIs on health and wellbeing. Therefore, this study sought to review the implementation and effectiveness of previous AAIs in university settings. Electronic databases ProQuest Central, Gale and 16 databases within EBSCOHost were searched with key words, such as AAI, and university or college students for relevant articles. Inclusion criteria included primary research studies that measured a health, wellbeing or behavioural outcome. A total of 47 articles met inclusion criteria, including 24 RCTs. There was limited reporting on the implementation of AAIs in the higher education setting. A total of 11 different mental health and behavioural outcomes have been summarized, with stress, anxiety and mood providing favourable results. An AAI on campus may provide a form of stress and anxiety relief for the university community. Other mental health and behavioural outcomes require further research to determine their effectiveness. These findings highlight that an AAI on campus could potentially provide a form of stress and anxiety relief, and could be a strategy for addressing rising levels of psychological stress and mental health issues among university students and staff in Australia and internationally.

History

Journal

Health Promotion International

Volume

38

Article number

daac001

Pagination

1-27

Location

Oxford, Eng.

ISSN

0957-4824

eISSN

1460-2245

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

3

Publisher

Oxford University Press (OUP)

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