Background: Animal-assisted interventions, in concrete dog-assisted intervention, have been introduced in prisons to reduce recidivism as well as to improve the well-being of prisoners. Therefore, the aim of the present systematic review is to provide an up-to-date analysis of the research on the effects of dog-based animal-assisted therapy in prison population.
Methods: An electronic search of the literature was performed, and 20 articles were included. The PRISMA guideline methodology was employed.
Results: Included studies involved a total of 1577 participants. The vast majority of protocols included activities related with dog training, dog caring, or activities, which included vocational or educational components. Duration of dog-based therapies ranged between 60 and 120 min, with the frequency being between 1 and 3 days/week. Statistically significant improvements in prisoners were observed in 13 studies.
Conclusions: Dog-based animal-assisted therapy may improve anxiety, stress, recidivism, and other social variables in male or female inmates.
Keywords: animal-assisted therapy; anxiety; dog therapy; inmates; prison; recidivism; stress.