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Effects of Horticulture Therapy on Engagement and Affect*

  • Christina M. Gigliotti (a1) and Shannon E. Jarrott (a1)


Implementing generationally appropriate activities for persons with dementia is a challenging task. Horticulture therapy (HT) addresses this challenge through the use of plants to facilitate holistic outcomes. Utilizing the model of environmental press, the current study sought to analyse adult day service (ADS) participants' responses to HT as compared to traditional activities.

HT activities were conducted once a week for a half an hour at four different ADS programs over the course of 9 weeks. Observational data were collected during HT and traditional ADS activities using a modified dementia care mapping (DCM) technique. Observers coded predominant behavioural and affectual responses for each participant.

HT activities facilitated higher levels of productive engagement and positive affect and lower levels of non-engagement than did traditional ADS activities. Therefore, HT offers dementia-care staff a viable activity alternative that is well received by clients and inclusive of all interested persons, despite cognitive limitations.

Devoir mettre en oeuvre des activités appropriées pour des personnes âgées atteintes de démence constitue une tâche difficile. La thérapie horticole (TH) permet de relever ce défi par l'utilisation de plantes afin de faciliter l'obtention de résultats globaux. À l'aide du modèle de l'évaluation du milieu, la présente étude cherche à analyser les réactions des participants des soins de jour pour adultes à l'égard de la TH par comparaison avec des activités traditionnelles.

Des activités de TH ont été menées une fois par semaine pendant une demi-heure dans le cadre de quatre programmes différents de soins de jour pour adultes sur une période de neuf semaines. Des données d'observation ont été recueillies pendant la TH ainsi que pendant les activités traditionnelles des soins de jour pour adultes, au moyen d'une version modifiée de la technique DCM (Dementia Care Mapping). Les observateurs ont utilisé des codes pour consigner les principales réactions de chaque participant d'un point de vue comportemental et affectif.

Les activités de TH ont suscité des niveaux plus élevés de participation productive, des conséquences positives ainsi que des niveaux moins élevés de non-engagement que les activités traditionnelles des soins de jour pour adultes. Par conséquent, la TH offre au personnel soignant des personnes atteintes de démence une activité de rechange valable qui est bien accueillie par les clients et qui intègre toutes les personnes intéressées, quelles que soient leurs limitations cognitives.


Corresponding author

Requests for offprints should be sent to: / Les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être addressées à : Shannon E. Jarrott, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Associate Professor, Dept. Human Development, 307 Wallace Hall, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061–0416. (


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This project was supported in part by a grant from the centre for Gerontology and the Department of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The authors would like to thank Drs. Diane Relf and Karen A. Roberto for their revisions and feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript. The authors would also like to thank Casey Cook, Melissa Gladwell, Jeremy Yorgason, and Jennifer Lambert-Shute for their contributions to facilitation and data collection. All names in this article have been changed to protect the identity of the study participants.



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