A Systematic Review of Equine-Assisted Interventions in Military Veterans Diagnosed with PTSD

December, 2019

This systematic review collates and discusses research on equine-assisted interventions (EAI) for military veterans with diagnosed PTSD. The review found 9 studies on EAI for military veterans with diagnosed PTSD within its search criteria. The data from the studies largely hypothesized the perceived benefits of EAI on military veterans with PTSD, with no statistical significance. The review concludes by making recommendations for further research.


Military veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian life often face challenges during the reintegration process. Reintegration can become more difficult when a veteran is coping with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its sequelae. Interventions are urgently needed to support veterans during times of transition. Animal-assisted interventions (AAI) show promise in reducing stress, depression, and improving wellbeing in marginalized populations. Equine-assisted interventions (EAI), in particular, are gaining momentum as a treatment option for veterans with PTSD. To synthesize current evidence on the use of EAI as a treatment option in military veterans formally diagnosed with PTSD. A comprehensive, electronic review of the literature was performed. Inclusion criteria were original quantitative or qualitative research, written in English, use of human participants, published through July 2019. The total number of studies included was nine. Main findings were that the efficacy of EAI on PTSD symptoms were equally mixed with both significant and non-significant findings. Data largely trended in the hypothesized direction for improving mental health states, resiliency, social function, quality of life, biological and behavioral measures, however, overall findings did not reach statistical significance. The investigation of EAI as an adjunct treatment for PTSD in military veterans may be effective, however, we cannot make a clear determination based on current evidence. Although findings largely trended in the hypothesized direction, most were not significant (except for PTSD symptoms) and warrant additional research to understand the effectiveness of EAI as an adjunct treatment in military veterans with PTSD.

Full Reference

Boss, L., Branson, S., Hagan, H. and Krause-Parello, C., 2019. A Systematic Review of Equine-Assisted Interventions in Military Veterans Diagnosed with PTSD. Journal of Veterans Studies, 5(1), pp.23–33. DOI:

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