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Complement Ther Med. 2018 Feb;36:50-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.10.013. Epub 2017 Oct 31.

Veterans in substance abuse treatment program self-initiate box gardening as a stress reducing therapeutic modality.

Author information

1
Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salem, Virginia, United States; Virginia Tech-Carilion School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Roanoke, VA, United States.
2
Geriatric Research Group, Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salem, VA, United States.
3
Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salem, Virginia, United States; Geriatric Research Group, Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salem, VA, United States; Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Blacksburg, VA, United States. Electronic address: Mark.Detweiler1@va.gov.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the experiences of a veteran initiated horticultural therapy garden during their 28-day inpatient Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (SARRTP).

DESIGN:

Retrospective study.

SETTING:

Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Salem, Virginia, USA INTERVENTIONS: Group interviews with veterans from the last SARRTP classes and individual interviews with VAMC greenhouse staff in summer of 2016.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

Time spent in garden, frequency of garden visits, types of passive and active garden activities, words describing the veterans' emotional reactions to utilizing the garden.

RESULTS:

In 3 summer months of 2016, 50 percent of the 56 veterans interviewed visited and interacted with the gardens during their free time. Frequency of visits generally varied from 3 times weekly to 1-2 times a day. Amount of time in the garden varied from 10min to 2h. The veterans engaged in active and/or passive gardening activities during their garden visits. The veterans reported feeling "calm", "serene", and "refreshed" during garden visitation and after leaving the garden.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although data was secured only at the end of the 2016 growing season, interviews of the inpatient veterans revealed that they used their own initiative and resources to continue the horticulture therapy program for 2 successive growing years after the original pilot project ended in 2014. These non-interventionist, therapeutic garden projects suggest the role of autonomy and patient initiative in recovery programs for veterans attending VAMC treatment programs and they also suggest the value of horticulture therapy as a meaningful evidence- based therapeutic modality for veterans.

KEYWORDS:

Gardening; Horticulture therapy; Stress; Substance abuse therapy; Veterans

PMID:
29458930
DOI:
10.1016/j.ctim.2017.10.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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