Effects of Animal Assisted Intervention for Individuals with Dementia

Date

2021

Authors

Hollingshead, Kaitlyn
Bustos, Annika
Salem, Yasser
Liu, Howe

ORCID

0000-0002-8386-6023 (Hollingshead, Kaitlyn)

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the evidence regarding the effectiveness of AAI for individuals with dementia. Methods: Two authors reviewed relevant literature and compiled a list of articles that were then sorted based on the predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Studies were included if they met the criteria of adult patients with a diagnosis of any type of dementia and included AAI with dogs. Articles were excluded if they were not available in English, included the use of robots or stuffed animals, or utilized other types of animals for the intervention. Study characteristics, such as the amount and duration of interventions, and specific methodological criteria, were related to reported effects. Results: The initial search resulted in retrieval of 306 articles. These articles were further reviewed to ensure that the methods coincided with established inclusion criteria and resulted in 20 articles. A variety of animal assisted activities were used with a focus on improving quality of life, mood, behavior, cognitive state, and functional activities. Various outcome measures were used to measure the effects of AAI including those that were specific to patients with dementia, and other non-specific measures to assess quality of life, mood, behavior, cognition and functional activities. Conclusion: The evidence suggests that AAI may have a positive effect on quality of life, agitation and depression, social interaction and physical activity in individuals with dementia. There was significant variability between studies regarding prescription of intervention, sample size and outcome measures used to document change.

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