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Do animal-assisted activities effectively treat depression? A meta-analysis

By M. A. Souter, M. D. Miller

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We conducted a meta-analysis to determine the effectiveness of animal-assisted activities (AAA) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT) for reducing depressive symptoms in humans. To be included in the meta-analysis, studies had to demonstrate random assignment, include a comparison/control group, use AAA or AAT, use a self-report measure of depression, and report sufficient information to calculate effect sizes, a statistical standardization of the strength of a treatment effect. Five studies were identified for analysis. The aggregate effect size for these studies was of medium magnitude and statistically significant, indicating that AAA/AAT are associated with fewer depressive symptoms. This analysis revealed gaps in the research on AAA/AAT, which we attempted to identify in order to better understand the factors that make AAA and AAT effective at reducing depression.

Date 2007
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 20
Issue 2
Pages 167-180
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Language English
Author Address Department of Psychology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5106,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Souter, M. A.; Miller, M. D. (2012), "Do animal-assisted activities effectively treat depression? A meta-analysis,"

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  1. Anthrozoology
  2. Depression
  3. Diseases
  4. Humans
  5. Mammals
  6. peer-reviewed
  7. Pets and companion animals
  8. Primates
  9. Psychiatry and psychology
  10. Psychotherapy
  11. therapeutics
  12. therapy
  1. peer-reviewed