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Processes in Social and Affective Development: Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) Research

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HAI Research—defined as studies of the association between pet ownership/caregiving and physical and mental health, as well as the use of animals in both physical and psychological therapeutic treatments—is a recent addition to the CDBB's portfolio, although the topic itself is actually several decades old. In 1987, the NIH hosted a Consensus Development Conference  titled The Health Benefits of Pets; however, little robust scientific research currently exists to reinforce or deepen understanding of the true nature of HAI’s impacts—positive and/or negative.

To encourage HAI Research, the NICHD’s CDBB entered into a formal public-private partnership with WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition, a divis​ion of Mars, Inc., in support of a new competitive research grant program. Through this program, the NICHD aims to increase understanding of the impact of animals on the lives of children, specifically exploring the:

  • Impact of HAI on typical and atypical development and health;
  • Involvement of animals in both physical and psychological therapeutic treatments; and
  • Effects of animals on public health, including the cost effectiveness of involving animals in reducing and preventing disease.

This Web site outlines topics related to HAI Research, explains funding and other support opportunities available for HAI Research, and provides resources related to HAI Research and applying for funding. To learn more, select a link below:

For more information on the NICHD’s HAI Research program, please contact Layla Esposito, Ph.D.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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