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Animal-Assisted Interventions for psychiatric patients: Beliefs in treatment effects among practitioners

By Bente Berget, Sverre Grepperud

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The aim of the study was to investigate the degree of belief in therapeutic effects from Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) for psychiatric patients among physicians and psychologists, and to identify variables explaining variations in such beliefs.

Material and methods

A postal questionnaire was distributed among 1100 practitioners to examine their opinions about the degree of usefulness of AAI for seven different disorders, and beliefs in treatment effects for six different categories of effects (both for pets and farm animals). The respondents also reported on gender, age, professional experience, therapeutic experience with AAI and own history of contact with animals.


The degree of belief in treatment effects to some or a high degree varied between 55.7% and 87.4% depending on type of disorder and category of treatment effect. The strongest degree of usefulness was reported for mental retardation while the least significant one was for schizophrenia disorders. The belief in treatment effects was highest for improved physically capacity and lowest for improved ability to communicate with other people and increased attention against others. The beliefs in treatment effects from pets were slightly higher than those for farm animals. Women, more than men, believed in treatment effects (4.95, 95%CI = 3.05–6.85), and those with a therapeutic experience with AAI more than those without the same experience (2.45, 95%CI = 0.65–4.25).


Usefulness and beliefs in treatment effects varied across disorders and categories of effects. Gender and therapeutic experience with AAI explained some of the variation in beliefs about treatment effects.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2011
Publication Title European Journal of Integrative Medicine
Volume 3
Issue 2
Pages e91-e96
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.eujim.2011.03.001
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Bente Berget; Sverre Grepperud (2018), "Animal-Assisted Interventions for psychiatric patients: Beliefs in treatment effects among practitioners,"

    BibTex | EndNote

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Belief
  4. Practitioners
  5. Psychiatry and psychology
  6. Treatment outcomes