Companion animals and child/adolescent development: a systematic review of the evidence

Purewal, Rebecca and Christley, Robert and Kordas, Katarzyna and Joinson, Carol and Meints, Kerstin and Gee, Nancy and Westgarth, Carri and UNSPECIFIED and UNSPECIFIED (2017) Companion animals and child/adolescent development: a systematic review of the evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14 (3). p. 234. ISSN 1660-4601

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14030234

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Abstract

Childhood and adolescence are important developmental phases which influence health and well-being across the life span. Social relationships are fundamental to child and adolescent development; yet studies have been limited to children’s relationships with other humans. This paper provides an evidence review for the potential associations between pet ownership and emotional; behavioural; cognitive; educational and social developmental outcomes. As the field is in the early stages; a broad set of inclusion criteria was applied. A systematic search of databases and grey literature sources found twenty-two studies meeting selection criteria. The review found evidence for an association between pet ownership and a wide range of emotional health benefits from childhood pet ownership; particularly for self-esteem and loneliness. The findings regarding childhood anxiety and depression were inconclusive. Studies also showed evidence of an association between pet ownership and educational and cognitive benefits; for example, in perspective-taking abilities and intellectual development. Evidence on behavioural development was unclear due to a lack of high quality research. Studies on pet ownership and social development provided evidence for an association with increased social competence; social networks; social interaction and social play behaviour. Overall, pet ownership and the significance of children’s bonds with companion animals have been underexplored; there is a shortage of high quality and longitudinal studies in all outcomes. Prospective studies that control for a wide range of confounders are required.

Keywords:pet ownership, human-animal interaction, review, systematic review, child development, adolescent development
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D330 Veterinary Public Health
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:28888
Deposited On:27 Sep 2017 07:47

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