Psychological and symptom disturbances seriously affect hospitalized children's subjective experiences of hospitalization and their prognosis. We systematically reviewed the effects of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) on pain, anxiety, depression, stress, blood pressure (BP), and heart rate (HR) in hospitalized children and teenagers.
A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted using the English-language electronic databases PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, Clinical Trials, Science Direct, EBSCOhost, Open Grey and Google Scholar, and the Chinese databases CNKI, Sinomed, Vip, and WanFang. These databases were searched through July 15, 2020.SAMPLE: Eight studies, including four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and four quasi-experimental studies were included, with a total of 348 participants.
Hospitalized children and teenagers with AAT had less pain (standardized mean difference = -0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.77 to -0.22; P < 0.001), lower systolic blood pressure (mean difference [MD] = -4.85; 95% CI, -9.50 to -0.21; P<sub>=</sub> 0.04), higher diastolic blood pressure (MD = 4.95; 95% CI, 1.90 to 8.00; P<sub>= 0.001)</sub> than controls, while there was no significant difference in depression, anxiety, stress, or HR.
As an adjuvant to traditional treatment, AAT was beneficial for controlling pain and BP in hospitalized children and teenagers.IMPLICATION: AAT may be an effective strategy for relieving pain and controlling BP in hospitalized children and teenagers, especially those with cancer. High-quality RCTs conducted or supported by nurses on the effects of AAT are needed.
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