Animal-assisted therapy in pediatric oncology: An integrative literature review




Statzer, Emily
Anderson, Abby
Floores, Lauren
Medrano, Sarena
Greene, Pamela


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Pediatric oncology patients face many new and uncomfortable experiences associated their treatment. These experiences can be overwhelming and frightening. Due to the nature and severity of oncology in pediatric patients and the treatment regimes, pediatric patients are at risk for developing anxiety, depression and other emotional as well as physical distress. Atraumatic care is a priority to counter the potential lasting trauma. Non-pharmacological interventions options are used to help pediatric patients cope with their treatment and hospitalization without adding to their list of medications. Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) has been implemented as a means of comfort, therapy, education, plan, and overall distraction. A comprehensive, integrative literature review was conducted. An evidence table was constructed to use in the analysis of the data found in current studies. The information from current studies was used to answer the question: In hos- pitalized pediatric oncology patients, how does animal assisted therapy compare to using other distractions in managing anxiety during hospitalizations? The findings from the research were analyzed and synthesized to answer the question and make recommendations. Findings confirmed the benefit of using ATT alone or in combination with other forms of distraction. Educating parents, patients, and healthcare providers on the benefit of Animal Assisted Therapy and advocating for its use is an effective way for nurses to provide holistic are and improve pediatric oncology patients’ overall hospital experience. ATT also is an effective intervention for reducing the long-term risks associated with trauma.



therapy dogs, technology distraction, mental status