REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201912.0243.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Oncology & Oncogenics Keywords: animal-assisted interventions; animal-assisted activities; animal-assisted therapy; oncology; cancer; human-animal bond; mechanisms; theoretical frameworks
Online: 19 December 2019 (06:45:23 CET)
Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) are a unique class of complementary medical treatments that can improve a patient’s quality of life, both physically and psychologically. Part I of this two-paper systematic literature review series focused on the study methods and quantitative results of researchers in this field. We continue this in-depth review here in Part II by discussing the common theories associated with AAI in the context of cancer. Of all the factors at work in human-animal interactions, researchers explicitly cite compatible animal personality, physical touch, physical movement, distraction/entertainment, and increased human interaction as the mechanisms responsible for the positive clinical outcomes observed in AAI. In various combinations, these mechanisms group under broader theoretical frameworks that attempt to fully explain the AAI context as it relates to cancer care. The social support hypothesis and the conception of a human-animal bond are the most referenced overarching frameworks. The cognitive activation theory of stress, the science of unitary human beings, and the self-object hypothesis are also referenced. We briefly consider other relevant theories commonly noted in the human-animal interactions literature that have the potential to clarify aspects of cancer-related AAI. We also discuss the neurobiological transduction mechanisms needed to connect theoretical frameworks and their mechanisms directly to the observed clinical outcomes. To advance the field, researchers should consider overarching theories with testable hypotheses when designing studies, and use consistent terminology when reporting results. This review lays a foundation for progress towards a unified theoretical framework and for effective treatment of the whole cancer patient.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201912.0242.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, Oncology & Oncogenics Keywords: animal-assisted interventions; animal-assisted activities; animal-assisted therapy; oncology; cancer; human-animal bond; quantitative
Online: 19 December 2019 (06:41:38 CET)
Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) use human-animal interactions to positive effect in various contexts including cancer care. This systematic literature review is the first part of a two-part paper series focusing on the research methods and quantitative results of AAI studies in oncology. We find methodological consistency in the use of canines as therapy animals, in the types of high-risk patients excluded from studies, and in the infection precautions taken with therapy animals throughout cancer wards. The investigated patient endpoints are not significantly affected by AAI, with the exceptions of improvements in oxygen consumption, quality of life, depression, mood, and satisfaction with therapy. The AAI field in oncology has progressed significantly since its inception and has great potential to positively impact future patient outcomes. To advance the field, AAI research in oncology should consistently improve the methodological design of studies, report data more completely, and focus on the therapy animal’s well-being.