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A systematic literature review of animal-assisted interventions in oncology (part II): theoretical mechanisms and frameworks

By T. R. N. Holder, M. E. Gruen, D. L. Roberts, T. Somers, A. Bozkurt

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Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) can improve patients' quality of life as complementary medical treatments. Part I of this 2-paper systematic review focused on the methods and results of cancer-related AAIs; Part II discusses the theories of the field's investigators. Researchers cite animal personality, physical touch, physical movement, distraction, and increased human interaction as sources of observed positive outcomes. These mechanisms then group under theoretical frameworks such as the social support hypothesis or the human-animal bond concept to fully explain AAI in oncology. The cognitive activation theory of stress, the science of unitary human beings, and the self-object hypothesis are additional frameworks mentioned by some researchers. We also discuss concepts of neurobiological transduction connecting mechanisms to AAI benefits. Future researchers should base study design on theories with testable hypotheses and use consistent terminology to report results. This review aids progress toward a unified theoretical framework and toward more holistic cancer treatments.

Date 2020
Publication Title Integrative Cancer Therapies
Volume 19
ISBN/ISSN 1534-7354
Publisher Sage
DOI 10.1177/1534735420943269
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Animal-assisted therapies
  4. Cancer
  5. Human-animal bond
  6. Mechanics
  7. oncology
  8. open access
  9. theoretical framework
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  1. open access