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

Megan A. Souter, Michelle D. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-180
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007


  • Animal-assisted activities
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Depression
  • Meta-analysis
  • Pet therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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