Implementation and Impact of Health Care Gardens: A Systematic Scoping Review

Chloe Carroll, Jennifer Higgs, Sally McCray, Jennifer Utter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background:
In community and school settings, gardens and garden interventions have been shown to confer several psychosocial, physiological, and nutritional benefits. However, little is known about the implementation and impact of health care gardens on patients, visitors, and staff health and well-being. The primary aim of this review is to identify and describe the types of gardens and common design elements implemented in health care settings and the impact these gardens have on the health and well-being of patients, visitors, and staff. A secondary aim is to assess the quality of available evidence.

Methods:
PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, and PsycINFO were systematically searched on October 28, 2022. Primary qualitative and quantitative studies (excluding case reports and studies) were eligible for inclusion if they described the types of gardens and common design elements implemented in health care settings (hospitals, aged care, rehabilitation facilities, and medical centers) and/or assessed the impact of garden interventions on the health and well-being of patients, visitors, and staff. Review, selection, and data extraction were conducted by two independent researchers, with findings synthesized and presented in narrative form. Articles were critically appraised using the mixed methods appraisal tool (MMAT).

Results:
Eighteen articles were included. Eight studies provided detailed descriptions of the types of gardens implemented in health care settings (healing [n = 3], therapeutic [n = 2], sensory [n = 2], children’s fairy gardens [n = 1], and enriched [n = 1] gardens). Studies examining the psychosocial impacts of gardens were most frequently reported (n = 16), followed by physical (n = 4) and nutritional (n = 2). A wide range of positive outcomes, predominantly relating to patients (n = 12), were reported, including improvements in stress, quality of life (QOL), cognitive function, physical activity, and fruit and vegetable intake. The evidence was heterogeneous and low-medium quality.

Conclusions:
The findings suggest that implementing gardens and garden interventions in health care settings may positively impact the health and well-being of patients, visitors, and staff. Most studies related to the impact of gardens on patients’ mental health and QOL, indicating the need for further research to explore physical and nutritional outcomes, as well as health outcomes of staff and visitors. Findings also suggest the need for high-quality study designs (e.g., cluster control trials) and standardized measurement tools.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2023

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