What is it about?

Assistance dogs can be trained to help veterans with PTSD. We reviewed all scientific papers on this topic to better understand the current evidence about these placements. Overall, we found that assistance dog placements were associated with fewer PTSD symptoms and may benefit mental and social well-being in other ways.

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Why is it important?

Systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses are used to compile research on a selected topic into a single comprehensive summary. The resulting summaries can then be used by doctors, policy makers, government agencies, and assistance dog organizations to make informed choices about patient treatment. This paper is the first time a meta-analysis has ever been conducted on the topic of psychiatric assistance dog placement as a complementary intervention for veterans with PTSD.


Right now, not a single medical insurance company will cover the cost of acquiring and caring for a service dog; waitlists to receive a service dog can be years long; service dog providers desperately need funding; and policy makers cite insufficient evidence. It is my hope that this systematic literature review takes us another step in the direction of putting empirical evidence behind the complementary intervention of a service dog. By better understanding how, why, and for whom service dog placements work, we can better support veterans in need.

Sarah Leighton
University of Arizona

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Assistance dogs for military veterans with PTSD: A systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-synthesis, PLoS ONE, September 2022, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274960.
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