Animal-assisted interventions in the classroom: a systematic review

Brelsford, Victoria, Meints, Kerstin, Gee, Nancy and Pfeffer, Karen (2017) Animal-assisted interventions in the classroom: a systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14 (7). p. 669. ISSN 1660-4601

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The inclusion of animals in educational practice is becoming increasingly popular, but it
is unclear how solid the evidence for this type of intervention is. The aim of this systematic review
is to scrutinise the empirical research literature relating to animal-assisted interventions conducted
in educational settings. The review included 25 papers; 21 from peer-reviewed journals and 4
obtained using grey literature databases. Most studies reported significant benefits of animal-assisted
interventions in the school setting. Despite this, studies vary greatly in methods and design, in
intervention types, measures, and sample sizes, and in the length of time exposed to an animal.
Furthermore, a worrying lack of reference to risk assessment and animal welfare must be highlighted.
Taken together, the results of this review show promising findings and emerging evidence suggestive
of potential benefits related to animals in school settings. The review also indicates the need for a
larger and more robust evidence base driven by thorough and strict protocols. The review further
emphasises the need for safeguarding for all involved—welfare and safety are paramount.

Keywords:animal-assisted intervention, dog, classroom, school, children, learning
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C811 Occupational Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C812 Educational Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:28886
Deposited On:27 Sep 2017 07:57

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