Purpose: To explore research that lends credibility to the therapeutic use of animals in health care. By integrating research from other disciplines and applying it to nursing, the art of nursing is fostered through the creative application of knowledge to practice.
Significance: Positive physiological and psychological benefits have been linked to the presence of companion animals. For example, researchers suggest that decreases in blood pressure, heart rates, and stress levels, as well as increases in emotional well-being and social interaction are benefits of the human-animal bond.
Conclusions: Compiling what has been learned in earlier scientific studies provides direction for future research in nursing to enhance nursing knowledge and expand nursing theory to improve care. Further investigation is necessary to clarify the concepts of animal assisted therapy (AAT) to build a body of useful knowledge for practice.