La Cátedra: investigación


La Cátedra Fundación Affinity Animales y Salud

El objetivo de la Cátedra Fundación Affinity Animales y Salud de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona es investigar la relación que se establece entre las personas y los animales de compañía.

La Cátedra Fundación Affinity Animales y Salud está impulsada de forma conjunta por el Departamento de Psiquiatría y Medicina Legal de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, la Fundación Affinity y el Parque de Salud Mar de Barcelona.

Hasta hoy las investigaciones de la Cátedra han generado 16 publicaciones en revistas científicas, 3 capítulos en libros técnicos, 2 tesis doctorales y más de 30 conferencias en congresos, seminarios y simposios internacionales.

Desde su creación, la Cátedra ha organizado 3 congresos internacionales en Barcelona: Canine Science Forum y ADI (Assistance Dogs International) en 2012 y el congreso anual de ISAZ en 2014 (International Society for Anthrozoology).

De 2015 a 2018 la Cátedra organizó en colaboración con el Ayuntamiento de Barcelona un postgrado en Antrozoología especialmente diseñado para personas que trabajan en entidades de protección animal.

Áreas de conocimiento

  • Naturaleza del vínculo entre las personas y los animales de compañía.
  • Beneficios para la salud y la calidad de vida de la convivencia con animales.
  • El valor terapéutico de los animales para las personas.


Desde el 2013 el Observatorio Fundación Affinity se dedica a difundir el conocimiento científico sobre el vínculo entre personas y animales de compañía.

The restrictive measures implemented to stem the spread of COVID-19 abruptly changed the lives of many cats and their owners. This study explored whether the lockdown in Italy affected the cat-owner relationship, as well as cat behaviour and welfare.

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Dogs are a source of companionship and comfort for their owners, but the degree to which this might translate into real emotional and social support has not been quantified. Emotional and social support are essential to help people to get through personal crises such as bereavement. In this study we characterize the social support owners obtain from their dogs, provide evidence of how widespread this social support is amongst dog-owners, and show how social support from dogs can increase during a crisis (using the COVID-19 pandemic as an example.

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Dog bites are a major public health problem throughout the world. The main consequences for human health include physical and psychological injuries of varying proportions, secondary infections, sequelae, risk of transmission of zoonoses and surgery, among others, which entail costs for the health system and those affected. The objective of this study was to characterize epidemiologically the incidents of bites in Chile and the patterns of human-dog relationship involved. The results showed that the main victims were adults, men. The dogs most involved in these incidents were medium-sized, mixed-breed, and most of these were known to the victim. The greatest frequency of such episodes occurred inside the home. This characterization of the problem is essential for a comprehensive understanding of the topic to develop successful dog bite prevention and management programs.

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Transport to the clinic is a major source of stress for cats. The process involves being put into a carrier, driven in a car and handled. Cats are therefore removed from the safe-haven of their territory and experience many stressful stimuli and interactions.

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of the Spanish confinement for the control of the COVID-19 pandemic on the behavior of pet cats and dogs, and the support that pets provided to their owners. We found that the quality of life of owners was strongly influenced by the lifestyle and emotional effects of the confinement, and that pets provided them with substantial support to mitigate those effects. However, pets showed signs of behavioral change that were consistent with stress, with dogs that had pre-existing behavioral problems being the most affected.

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Understanding the psychological correlates of attitudes toward pet relinquishment and actual pet relinquishment is essential to inform interventions, and assess their impact. In this study, we developed new scales to measure attitudes toward pet relinquishment, motives for pet relinquishment, and general trust in pets. With these scales, we showed that attitudes of lack of obligation toward pet relinquishment were more likely in older people, those who perceived their pet as a burden, and those with lower general trust in pets. In addition, we found that attitudes of pragmatism toward pet relinquishment were more likely in men, those who were the main pet caretaker, those who perceived their pet as a burden, those with higher motives for pet relinquishment, and those with lower general trust in pets. Moreover, we found that past pet relinquishment behavior was more likely among people with attitudes of pragmatism toward pet relinquishment. Broadly, these findings advance our knowledge of pet relinquishment, and are likely to inform intervention campaigns to prevent it.

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Characteristics of the human-animal bond can be influenced by both owner-related and pet-related factors, which likely differ between species. Three studies adapted the Monash Dog-Owner Relationship Scale (MDORS) to permit assessment of human-cat interactions as perceived by the cat’s owner. In Study 1293 female cat owners completed a modified version of the MDORS, where ‘dog’ was replaced with ‘cat’ for all items...

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Currently, one of the main objectives of human–animal interaction research is to demonstrate the benefits of animal assisted therapy (AAT) for specific profiles of patients or participants. The aim of this study is to assess the effect of an AAT program as an adjunct to a conventional 6–month psychosocial rehabilitation program for people with schizophrenia. Our hypothesis is that the inclusion of AAT into psychosocial rehabilitation would contribute positively to the impact of the overall program on symptomology and quality of life, and that AAT would be a positive experience for patients. To test these hypotheses, we compared pre–program with post–program scores for the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the EuroQoL-5 dimensions questionnaire (EuroQol-5D), pre–session with post–session salivary cortisol and alpha–amylase for the last four AAT sessions, and adherence rates between different elements of the program. We conducted a randomized, controlled study in a psychiatric care center in Spain. Twenty–two institutionalized patients with chronic schizophrenia completed the 6–month rehabilitation program, which included individual psychotherapy, group therapy, a functional program (intended to improve daily functioning), a community program (intended to facilitate community reintegration) and a family program. Each member of the control group (n = 8) participated in one activity from a range of therapeutic activities that were part of the functional program. In place of this functional program activity, the AAT–treatment group (n = 14) participated in twice–weekly 1–h sessions of AAT. All participants received the same weekly total number of hours of rehabilitation. At the end of the program, both groups (control and AAT–treatment) showed significant improvements in positive and overall symptomatology, as measured with PANSS, but only the AAT–treatment group showed a significant improvement in negative symptomatology. Adherence to the AAT–treatment was significantly higher than overall adherence to the control group’s functional rehabilitation activities. Cortisol level was significantly reduced after participating in an AAT session, which could indicate that interaction with the therapy dogs reduced stress. In conclusion, the results of this small–scale RCT suggest that AAT could be considered a useful adjunct to conventional psychosocial rehabilitation for people with schizophrenia.

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The characteristics of the human-animal bond may be influenced by both owner-related and dog-related factors. A study was designed to explore the existence of different dog ownership patterns and their related factors. We created an on line questionnaire that included demographic questions about the dog and the owner, a Spanish version of the Monash Dog Owner Relationship Scale (MDORS) and a validated measure of satisfaction with life (Cantril’s ladder). We collected 1140 valid responses from adult dog owners, who were recruited using the client databases of Spanish veterinary practices...

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In this paper we wanted to estimate the incidence of abandonment, as well as the general profile of dogs and cats entering animal shelters in our country. Also, we wanted to test the impact of identification on the recovery of dogs that had entered animal shelters. More than 100,000 dogs and more than 30,000 cats enter animal shelters annually in Spain. We observed a seasonal effect in the number of admissions in cats. A considerable percentage remained at the shelter or was euthanized. We found that identification of dogs with a microchip increased by 3-fold the likelihood of them being returned to the owner.

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El objetivo de la Cátedra Fundación Affinity Animales y Salud de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona es investigar la relación que se establece entre las personas y los animales de compañía.


  • Dr. Jaume Fatjó
    Doctor en Veterinaria.
    Profesor asociado del Departamento de Psiquiatría y Medicina Legal de la UAB.

Comisión mixta de seguimiento

  • Profesor Antoni Bulbena
    Catedrático de Psiquiatría.
    Director del Departamento de Psiquiatría y Medicina Legal de la UAB.
  • Isabel Buil
    Directora de la Fundación Affinity.
  • Profesor Adolf Tobeña
    Catedrático emérito del Departamento de Psiquiatría y Medicina Legal de la UAB.
  • Dra. Celina Torre
    Doctora en Veterinaria.
    Directora de Investigación de Affinity Petcare.
  • Dr. Oscar Vilarroya
    Médico y doctor en Ciencia Cognitiva.
    Director de investigación del Departamento de Psiquiatría y Medicina Legal de la UAB.
  • Profesor Lluís Ferrer
    Catedrático de Patología Animal del Departamento de Medicina y Cirugía Animal.
  • Dr. Joan Ramon Fortuny
    Médico Psiquiatra.
    Director del Proceso de Rehabilitación Psicosocial del Parc de Salut Mar de Barcelona.



Departamento de Psiquiatría y Medicina Legal de la UAB
Facultad de Medicina
Campus de la UAB
Tel. (+34) 93 581 23 81
08193 – Bellaterra