Human Health and Plants Research: Horticultural Therapy, Dementia and Mental Health

A new study on horticultural therapy (HT) and mental health published in the journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health in 2017, isn’t a traditional singular study, but a systematic evaluation of many studies published on the topic between 1992 and 2015. Scouring the scientific literature, the authors found 14 of 25 research studies retrieved on horticultural therapy and mental health that fit specific criteria for inclusion and evaluation in the present work. The quality and level of the scientific evidence for each study were graded. Ten of the studies had participants with dementia. Four studies had participants with other mental health conditions. In some of the 14 studies, HT was shown to improve expression of emotion activity and engagement in populations with dementia, while other studies reported improvements in stress levels and coping, or depression and anxiety, or improved cognition. The authors conclude the cumulative research from the 14 studies provides “moderate initial evidence” that HT can improve mental health and performance.

Charlie Guy, Professor, UF Department of Environmental Horticulture

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