Group-based art, gardening show therapeutic benefits for women, study finds

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Participating in group-based gardening and art demonstrated measurable improvements in women’s psychosocial health, according to the results of a study published in PLUS One.

“Cultivation of plants, gardens and horticulture has been an integral and enduring factor in our adaptive capacity and well-being as a species.” Raymond OdehMRS, of the department of environmental horticulture, University of Florida, and colleagues wrote. “Art making, similar to gardening, is thought to be an innate human behavior, and both art making and art therapy have been shown to provide therapeutic benefits.”

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Odeh and other researchers aimed to test the hypothesis that participating in group-based indoor gardening activities or art-making activities for 1 hour twice a week over a 4-week period would provide quantitatively therapeutic benefits of different for a population of healthy women aged 26 to 49 years. .

The randomized, controlled trial involved 42 individuals who were assigned on a 1:1 basis to receive eight 1-hour group-based interventions, either gardening or art. A total of 36 participants began the treatment protocol and 32 (horticulture, n = 15; art, n = 17) completed the trial.

Several self-report psychometric assessments of anxiety, depressive symptomatology, mood disturbance, stress, satisfaction with discretionary social activities, and quality of life measures were conducted. Cardiac physiological data were also collected. Outcomes were measured at baseline, during the study and after the intervention.

Results indicated that gardening and art-making activities resulted in therapeutic improvements in total mood disturbance, depressive symptomatology, and perceived stress with varying effect sizes after eight 1-hour treatment sessions. Gardening also resulted in improvements for indicators of trait anxiety. Based on time course trials, dose responses were observed for total mood disturbance, perceived stress, and depressive symptomatology for both gardening and art.

However, the researchers also found that neither gardening nor art making had a significant impact on heart rate or blood pressure or resulted in significant improvement in enjoyment of leisure activities.

“We believe this research shows promise for mental well-being, plants in [health care] and in public health. It would be great to see other researchers use our work as a basis for these types of studies.” Charles L. Guy, PhD, professor emeritus in the department of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida and principal investigator, said in a release accompanying the study.


Gardening can cultivate better mental health. Published: July 6, 2022. Accessed: July 11, 2022.

Odeh R, etc. PLoS One. 2022; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0269248.

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