Purpose – The number of gardening‐based mental health interventions is increasing, yet when the literature was last reviewed in 2003, limited evidence of their effectiveness was identified. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the current evidence‐base for gardening‐based mental health interventions and projects through examining their reported benefits and the quality of research in this field. Design/methodology/approach – Studies evaluating the benefits of gardening‐based interventions for adults experiencing mental health difficulties were identified through an electronic database search. Information on the content and theoretical foundations of the interventions, the identified benefits of the interventions and the study methodology was extracted and synthesised. Findings – Ten papers published since 2003 met the inclusion criteria. All reported positive effects of gardening as a mental health intervention for service users, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. Participants described a range of benefits across emotional, social, vocational, physical and spiritual domains. Overall the research was of a considerably higher quality than that reviewed in 2003, providing more convincing evidence in support of gardening‐based interventions. However, none of the studies employed a randomised‐controlled trial design. Research limitations/implications – There is a need for further high‐quality research in this field. It is important that adequate outcome measures are in place to evaluate existing gardening‐based mental health interventions/projects effectively. Originality/value – This paper provides an up‐to‐date critique of the evidence for gardening‐based mental health interventions, highlighting their potential clinical value.
Mental Health Review Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 29, 2013
Keywords: Ecotherapy; Gardening; Horticultural therapy; Therapeutic horticulture
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