Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) using dogs is an effective treatment for positive and negative symptoms for adult inpatient schizophrenics.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review of 3 articles published in English in peer reviewed journals between 2005-2009

DATA SOURCES: Two randomized controlled trials and one allocation by minimization controlled trial comparing the effects of AAT using dogs on positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia to control groups. All articles were found using PubMed and PROQuest

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Focused questionnaires were given before and after AAT to analyze the effects on positive and negative symptoms.

RESULTS: Chu et al. and Vilalta-Gil et al. showed improvement following treatment in positive symptoms. Vilalta-Gil et al. also showed improvement in negative symptoms. Nathans-Barel showed no improvement in positive or negative symptoms, but marked improvements in hedonic tone.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of the three studies gave inconclusive evidence for the use of AAT in the treatment of positive and negative symptoms. Limitations in the study designs, such as size and lack of follow up, prevent the results from sufficiently identifying a relationship between AAT and positive and negative symptoms. However, the results encourage further study, especially when the relatively minimal risk of the intervention is considered.