Reflections on Recent Research Into Animal-Assisted Interventions in the Military and Beyond
Purpose of Review
The purpose of the present review was threefold: to address the current state of Animal-Assisted Interactions (AAI) within the military; to summarize recent literature (within the past three years) in the field of AAI; and to discuss trends in AAI research since 2014.
With regard to AAI within the military, several canine interaction programs have been utilized to assist service members in coping with various issues. Therapy dogs have been deployed with Combat-Operational Stress Control units; they have been integrated into medical clinics and behavioral health treatment programs in garrison; and policy has been developed to address the use of therapy animals in military treatment facilities. General research in AAI has demonstrated efficacy for certain presenting issues (stress management, trauma, autism spectrum disorder) and specific populations (children, the elderly, acute care patients). Overall trends in research include calls for increased consideration for animal welfare in AAI and increased rigor in research methodology.
Current research supports the structured use of therapy dogs in the treatment of various disorders and with specific populations, including military service members and veterans; however, the need for additional research with rigorous methodology remains.
KeywordsAnimal-assisted interactions Animal-assisted therapy Therapy dogs Military CAM treatment CAM therapy
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Christina B. Rumayor and Amy M. Thrasher each declare no potential conflicts of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance
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