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Treatment Effects of Cattle in Forensic Settings

Animal based programs are established activities in prisons internationally. In Sweden, three prisons are providing daily work with animal care - mainly cattle. The activity is described by prisoners and staff as positive and beneficial for both psychological well-being and pro-social behaviour, but is presently operating without therapeutic or educational purposes. In light of previous research and with regards to the Swedish Prison Service’s vision of not only being able to provide secure custody but also provide change in lifestyle, this study explores psychological effects of working with animals as an intervention.


The aim of the project is to understand if the human – animal interaction has direct and long-term positive effects regarding to social skills, coping, self-efficacy and sense of coherence.


It is a controlled – but not randomized - design with an intervention group working with animals, and a control group not working with animals. There are three testing points: pre- and post-intervention and one follow up test after 6 months. The intervention period is 12-weeks in total, and the tests are using established and validated self-rating questionnaires completed with official reports about deviant behaviors collected before and during the intervention.


The results may demonstrate the evidence-based advantages of an effectively structured farming and animal care treatment program within the Swedish Prison and Probation Service. The study is also in line with Swedish Prison Service’s ideas about enabling environment, where accountability and active participation of the clients are important aspects, as well as the importance of the physical environment itself in well-being.

Principal Investigators: Nóra Kerekes, Ph.D. Swedish Prison and Probation Service, Gothenburg
Investigators: Cecilia Fielding and Susanne Apelqvist

Contact Information

Nóra Kerekes

Contact Information

Susanne Apelqvist

Page Manager: Stefan Axelsson|Last update: 11/3/2014

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