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Call for papers - Animal-assisted interventions for mental health

Guest Editors:
Laura Contalbrigo: Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Italy
Karin Hediger: University of Basel,  Switzerland
Antonio Santaniello: Federico II University of Naples, Italy

Submission Status: Open   |   Submission Deadline: 11 April 2024


BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies is calling for submissions to our collection on animal-assisted interventions for mental health. First documented around 12,000 years ago, the therapeutic benefits of human-animal bond have remained a subject of notable research, support and implementation. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies has launched this collection in support of disseminating evidence-based research on this emerging and important topic. We are particularly interested in research looking at the effects of animal-assisted interventions for anxiety and PTSD.

Meet the Guest Editors

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Laura Contalbrigo: Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Italy

Laura Contalbrigo is a researcher of the National Reference Centre for Animal Assisted Intervention (NRC AAI) at the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie since 2015. Her main research interests focus on the human-animal bond and companion animal welfare especially for human-dog relationship and assistance dog welfare. She is in charge of institutional activities in the field of animal-assisted interventions like sector analysis and social inquiries, and she works as animal-assisted interventions scientific consultant for animal-assisted interventions organizations and healthcare facilities.

Karin Hediger: University of Basel,  Switzerland; Open University, Netherlands

Karin Hediger is a licensed psychotherapist, head of division at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Basel, and associated at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Switzerland. Together with her team, she investigates the effects of animal-assisted interventions and mechanisms of human-animal interactions. Since August 2020, Dr Hediger fills the endowed chair for Anthrozoology at the Open University in the Netherlands.

Antonio Santaniello: Federico II University of Naples, Italy

Antonio Santaniello is Associate Professor in Infectious Animal Diseases. His main research interest is animal-assisted interventions in terms of work methodology, operator and animal training, and assessment of related health risks. From 2010 to 2015, Dr Santaniello collaborated with the chair of animal-assisted Interventions at the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Production of Naples. Since 2016, he has developed researching and teaching objectives to expand animal-assisted Interventions.

About the collection

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies is calling for submissions to our collection on animal-assisted interventions for mental health. 

The symbiotically mutual co-existence of humans and animals has been documented through history. In recent years, animal-assisted interventions are increasingly recognized for enhancing human health and well-being. The Delta Society, a foundation with a mission to improve human-animal health connection, states that animal-assisted therapy aims to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive functioning. Although dogs are the most common type of animal used, the use of horses, cats, donkeys, guinea pigs and African gray parrots in animal-assisted interventions is increasingly common. Among others, the use of animal-assisted interventions results in significant improvement in studies examining blood pressure, loneliness, symptoms of clinical depression, anxiety and PTSD in humans. 

First documented around 12,000 years ago, the therapeutic benefits of human-animal bond have remained a subject of notable research, support and implementation. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies has launched this collection in support of disseminating evidence-based research on this emerging and important topic. We are particularly interested in research looking at the effects of animal-assisted interventions for anxiety and PTSD. We welcome studies from a range of disciplines and research topics including, but not limited to:

  • Effectiveness and use of animal-assisted interventions for mental health
  • Mechanisms of action of animal-assisted interventions in improvement of mental health
  • Issues and challenges surrounding implementation or studies of animal-assisted interventions 
  • Attitudes and perceptions on the use of animal-assisted interventions as therapy


Image credit: Halfpoint / stock.adobe.com

  1. Substance Use Disorders (SUD) is a universal overwhelming public health problem and is associated with other psychological and mental health ailments such as emotion regulation, perceived self-esteem, and self...

    Authors: Nagwa Souilm
    Citation: BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies 2023 23:363

Submission Guidelines

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This Collection welcomes submission of original Research Articles. Should you wish to submit a different article type, please read our submission guidelines to confirm that type is accepted by the journal. Articles for this Collection should be submitted via our submission system, Snapp. During the submission process you will be asked whether you are submitting to a Collection, please select "Animal-assisted interventions for mental health" from the dropdown menu.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies. Articles will be added to the Collection as they are published.

The Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer review process. The peer review of any submissions for which the Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.