This article presents a comprehensive critical review of the peer-reviewed literature on palliative care and companion animals (CAs), reporting on the evidence and knowledge base regarding CAs and their role for people at end of life. PubMed, PsycINFO, Medline, Scopus, and Google Scholar were searched for studies pertaining to CAs, end of life, and hospice palliative care. Six studies dealt specifically with empirical research. The remaining literature addressed the topic peripherally or anecdotally. The evidence for efficacy and the knowledge base about the role of CAs at end of life in hospice and palliative care is weak. Further efforts are required to study the conditions under which CAs may be beneficial for patient care, including acceptability to staff, family, and other patients, and with consideration of welfare for the animals involved.
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