Research Reviews

Beneficial Effects of Pet Qwnership on Child Immune

J McNicholas, G Collis, J Seghal, 2004, unpublished

Family pets are good for young children’s health,
according to a study from the University of Warwick. The study
found that four and five year olds whose families own a pet have
fewer days off school than children from homes without a pet.
However, by the age of seven keeping a pet has only a marginal
effect on health.

The researchers examined the school attendance records of 256
primary school children and found that the attendance of children
in reception was 18 per cent better if they had a pet at home than
if they had no pets.

The kind of pet seems to make no difference. Researcher and
health psychologist Dr June McNicholas says: “It is more to do with
just owning a pet and taking care of it, and having it live in the
same house as you. The underlying theory is that the immune system
develops in relation to what it is exposed to.”

Prototypes and Health. Reasoned Action, Social Reaction
or Goal


A Rivis, P Sheeran, C Armitage, ESRC-funded study, June 2004,

Research from the University of Sheffield suggests that when it
comes to lifestyle choices about smoking, drinking and healthy
eating, young people are being unconsciously influenced by

In one of four studies researchers asked young people aged
between 14 and 19 a range of questions about activities such as
taking exercise, sleep, eating breakfast, smoking, drinking and use
of drugs. The young people were asked about whether they intended
to take exercise, drink, etc, and about their impressions of people
who often did these things. The researchers found that regardless
of their willingness or conscious intentions, those young people
who had positive impressions of people who, say, drank were more
likely to drink themselves.

Professor Paschal Sheeran, who lead the research, says: “Young
people have ideas about what the typical person who smokes, drinks,
or exercises is like, and these images have an important effect on
their own behaviour.

“Our experiments show that in the same way that many people
think that advertising affects others but not themselves, images
influence people, even though they don’t believe this to be
the case.”

• For more information see

What Works in Parenting Support? A Review of the
International Evidence

By Patricia Mann, Deborah Ghate and Amelia van der Merwe, Policy
Research Bureau, 2004

A review of international research on parenting education
concluded that we do not yet know how effective UK parenting
programmes are, whether they are cost-effective nor whether
benefits for parents and children last over time. Nor do we know
much about what works with fathers or with ethnic minority

But the Policy Research Bureau review also highlights what we do
know about effective practice in this field. It found that the best
way of providing parenting education is through group-based
programmes delivered by skilled staff which focus on giving parents
information about child development and take-home tips for
improving behaviour as well as more cognitive approaches for
tackling parents’ beliefs about parenting.

Parents generally gain from being part of a group, and effective
programmes work at engaging parents. Parents who have more complex
needs or who are experiencing particular difficulties may find
one-to-one support more helpful.

The reviewers conclude that effective programmes are usually
carefully planned and have concrete objectives as well as broad

• For more, see


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