Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 29.2 - 2019


Therapeutic Horticulture as a Quality of Life Intervention in Chronic Hemodialysis Patients
Elizabeth R.M. Diehl, HTM, Deborah Morrison, MA, & C. Craig Tisher, MD

This two-year study explored the effect of a structured therapeutic horticulture program on quality of life for individuals with end-stage kidney disease. Dialysis patients participated in a 14-16 week program led by a horticultural therapist in an accessible greenhouse. The Kidney Disease Quality of Life (KDQOL-SFTM v1.3) short form was administered to patients at baseline, halfway through programming, at the end of programming, and two months  after programming ended. Significant differences in the scores for Burden of Kidney Disease were found between baseline and the halfway point, suggesting a decrease in the patients’ frustration caused by interference of kidney disease in daily life. A significant improvement in Physical Functioning between baseline and halfway through programming was also reported. Both improvements were sustained through the end of programming. There was a significant drop-out of patients over the course of the study due to complications with the disease and hemodialysis.

Horticultural Therapy Support Group for Older Adult Caregivers: Examining Intervention Effectiveness Using Psychometrically Validated Measures
Jamie Ascencio, MS, Mallory Wojtaszek B.S., & Deana Davalos, PhD

Caregivers in the United States are often under supported and are at higher risk for mental and physical health issues including chronic stress, depression, and hypertension. The current study provided a horticultural therapy support group for a small group of caregivers and assessed its efficacy using many psychometric measures including those measuring gratitude, loneliness, mindfulness of mind and body, subjective vitality, burden, depression, anxiety, and stress. We found that the support group had large effects on subjective vitality and loneliness and medium effects on gratitude, depression, and burden. All of these effects were in such a direction that indicated an improved quality of life. These findings, while promising, must be taken in consideration of some limitations such as the small sample size and some clients’ concurrent participation in individual therapy. Future research should aim to replicate these findings using control groups such as a wait-list group or a group of individuals not in individual therapy. Future studies should continue using psychometrically sound instruments to assess the impact of interventions.

Mental Health Through the Art of Gardening
Dr. Ana Bahamonde

The number of youth suffering from depression and substance abuse is rapidly increasing. Since mental health problems impair the healthy cognitive and emotional development of children, it is imperative to place mental health programs at the forefront of the school’s agenda. Various studies have focused on the mental health benefits of horticultural activities for vulnerable populations, but there is a gap in the literature regarding the potential benefits of therapeutic horticulture in schools to improve the overall well-being of students. For years, school garden programs have focused mostly
on nutrition and academics, yet it is important that inquiry extend to the potential benefits of gardening to promote mental health in schools. Due to barriers that exist in implementing and sustaining school gardens, it is necessary to find an alternative method to traditional soil gardens. 

Therefore, the researcher used a generic qualitative study of 10 school counselors and 3 school counselors in training who work in low-income  communities to explore their perceptions about youth mental health and school mental health barriers. Moreover, the researcher investigated participants’ perceptions regarding tower gardening (vertical aeroponic garden systems that grow plants all year both indoors or outdoors without soil) 
as a therapeutic alternative that can promote students’ overall well-being. The findings revealed positive perceptions regarding tower gardens but also showed the need to include more education on alternative therapies that promote a holistic approach.

Developing Horticultural Therapy Protocols
Derrick R. Stowell HTR, CTRS, & P.J. Snodgrass PhD

Protocols are tools used in many professions. In health care settings, protocols are often used to establish evidence-based practices to implement 
treatments in a variety of settings. There are three main types of protocols found in health care which include research protocols, treatment protocols, and diagnostic protocols. Research protocols help to establish guidelines for conducting research related to specific interventions. A well-written research protocol should be included in the methods section of published research. This will allow for replication of the research and further validate 
research findings. Treatment protocols establish how specific treatments are implemented. Diagnostic protocols focus on specific diagnostic groupings.

Another term that is often used interchangeably with protocols is clinical practice guidelines. This article will discuss the need for establishing horticultural therapy protocols and explore the differences between protocols and clinical practice guidelines. The article will conclude with an example of a written protocol for a mobile horticultural therapy program.