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Improving the Emotional Distress and the Experience of Hospitalization in Children and Adolescent Patients Through Animal Assisted Interventions: A Systematic Review

By C. Correale, M. Borgi, B. Collacchi, C. Falamesca, S. Gentile, F. Vigevano, S. Cappelletti, F. Cirulli

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Abstract

Introduction: Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs) are increasingly common in pediatric care settings as a means to promote the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of hospitalized children and adolescents.

Objectives: The aim of this work was to review published studies implementing AAIs in hospital settings and to assess the effects of AAIs on the biobehavioral response to stress and pain, social behavior, quality of life and level of satisfaction with hospitalization in children and adolescents. Stress and burden, quality of life, mood and level of satisfaction with hospitalization in parents/caregivers as well as stress and burden, perception of the work environment and job satisfaction in hospital staff were also reviewed.

Methods: All published studies reporting quantitative assessments were systematically searched using PubMed, Scopus, ProQuest and Web of Science databases in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. The aim was to identify studies examining the effects of AAIs on behavioral, psychological and physiological responses to stress in children and adolescents (0–18 years) formally admitted to a hospital for a stay, as well as in those undergoing a visit for treatments or medical examinations.

Results: Of the 350 studies screened, 21 were eligible for inclusion. Most of them focused on stress, pain, and anxiety reduction in pediatric patients, and used both physiological parameters and behavioral and psychological observations/scales. All studies employed dogs. Results show the potential of AAIs to reduce anxiety and behavioral distress in pediatric patients while acting on physiological measures associated with arousal.

Conclusion: Although further, more rigorous studies are still needed, the findings of this review may have implications for clinical practices suggesting appropriate planning of AAIs by pediatric healthcare professionals.

Date 2022
Publication Title Front Psychol
Volume 13
Pages 840107
ISBN/ISSN 1664-1078 (Print)1664-1078
DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.840107
Author Address Clinical Psychology Unit, Department of Neurosciences, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.Center for Behavioral Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.Department of Humanities, LUMSA University, Rome, Italy.Department of Neurosciences, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Rome, Italy.
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Adolescents
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Anxiety
  4. Children
  5. Hospitalization
  6. Interests
  7. open access
  8. Pain
  9. pediatrics
  10. Stress
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  1. open access