About this Research Topic
The Overview paper will describe briefly the 10-year Public – Private Partnership (PPP) between the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the Mars Corporation’s Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, and will provide a broad overview of the research supported by this partnership over the past decade. The workshops, research solicitations, and resulting research and publications over those 10 years have moved the field toward the use of more rigorous designs and methods, raising the bar for research in Human-Animal Interaction (HAI). The field has been more widely recognized, addressing not only interactions with pets and the social-emotional benefits generally, but also potential mechanisms for those quantifiable effects, as well as intervention studies including randomized controlled trials. There has been an increased focus on the health benefits of interaction with animals, and increased attention to the effects of HAI on not only the humans but also the animals involved, who also may suffer stress. This Research Topic will address the social-emotional effects of HAI, behavioral and biological effects of stress and the impact of animal-assisted interventions on stress-reduction, adaptive behaviors for children with Developmental Disabilities (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)), and other behavioral disorders (e.g., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)). There will also be papers on cohort data and longitudinal effects of HAI, as well as studies of dog cognition and behavior and how these affect HAI. The final paper, by members of the NICHD-Mars/Waltham Partnership, will address new methodologies as well as future directions for the field over the coming 10 years.
Keywords: Human-animal interaction, animal-assisted intervention, animal-assisted therapy, anthrozoology, child development
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