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Canine and Equine Therapy for Mental Health: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness

Last updated: August 30, 2019
Project Number: RC1179-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Non-Pharma Mental Health Intervention
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report

Question

  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of canine therapy for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or major depressive disorder (MDD)?
  2. What is the clinical effectiveness of canine therapy as an adjunct to psychotherapy for patients with PTSD, GAD, MDD?
  3. What is the clinical effectiveness of equine therapy for patients with PTSD, GAD, MDD?
  4. What is the clinical effectiveness of equine therapy as an adjunct to psychotherapy for patients with PTSD, GAD, MDD?

Key Message

One relevant non-randomized study was identified regarding the comparative clinical effectiveness of equine-assisted psychotherapy plus ongoing standard therapy versus ongoing standard therapy alone for the treatment of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. This evidence of low quality reported no significant differences in post-traumatic stress disorder symptom severity, psychological resilience, and salivary cortisol between the treatment groups after the six-week treatment protocol.No evidence regarding the comparative clinical effectiveness of equine therapy versus psychotherapy for patients with generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder was identified. Additionally, no evidence regarding the comparative clinical effectiveness of canine therapy (alone or as an adjunct to psychotherapy) versus psychotherapy for the treatment of patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or major depressive disorder was identified. Additional research will be necessary to further evaluate the role of canine and equine therapy for the treatment of individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or major depressive disorder.