Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence

Purewal, R, Christley, R ORCID: 0000-0001-9250-3032, Kordas, K, Joinson, C, Meints, K, Gee, N and Westgarth, C ORCID: 0000-0003-0471-2761
(2017) Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14 (3).

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Childhood and adolescence are important developmental phases which influence health and well-being across the life span. Social relationships are fundamental to child and adolescent development; yet studies have been limited to children’s relationships with other humans. This paper provides an evidence review for the potential associations between pet ownership and emotional; behavioural; cognitive; educational and social developmental outcomes. As the field is in the early stages; a broad set of inclusion criteria was applied. A systematic search of databases and grey literature sources found twenty-two studies meeting selection criteria. The review found evidence for an association between pet ownership and a wide range of emotional health benefits from childhood pet ownership; particularly for self-esteem and loneliness. The findings regarding childhood anxiety and depression were inconclusive. Studies also showed evidence of an association between pet ownership and educational and cognitive benefits; for example, in perspective-taking abilities and intellectual development. Evidence on behavioural development was unclear due to a lack of high quality research. Studies on pet ownership and social development provided evidence for an association with increased social competence; social networks; social interaction and social play behaviour. Overall, pet ownership and the significance of children’s bonds with companion animals have been underexplored; there is a shortage of high quality and longitudinal studies in all outcomes. Prospective studies that control for a wide range of confounders are required.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pet ownership, Human-animal interaction, Review, Child development, Adolescent development
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2017 10:25
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2022 18:11
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph14030234
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