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Choong-Ki Lee, Sin-Ae Park, James W. Mjelde, Tae-Kyun Kim and Jae-Hwan Cho

Previous research has shown horticultural therapy (HT) provides both physical and mental benefits to those engaged in the gardening activities. Individuals' willingness-to-pay (WTP) for these benefits, however, is unknown because of the lack of well-defined markets for HT. As such, this study estimates individuals' mean WTP for a HT site in Busan, South Korea. Mean WTP is ≈$170/month U.S. per individual. WTP, however, shows a wide dispersion; the standard deviation of the estimated WTP is ≈$60 U.S. This study provides additional information to the policymakers of Busan concerning the issue of developing a horticultural site for its citizens. This information must be weighed against the costs of developing the site.

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Catherine McGuinn and Paula Diane Relf

This study provides a profile of six juvenile offenders' responses to a vocational horticulture curriculum. The results indicate that vocational horticulture curricula may be a tool to strengthen a delinquent individual's bonds with society and, subsequently, evoke changes in attitudes about personal success and perceptions of personal job preparedness. The youths in this study increased their social bonds in all six categories addressed by the pretest and posttests, and were motivated to think more practically about their careers. Due to the limitations on size and scope of the study, it is exploratory in nature and provides ideas for future research and possible assessment methods for further research.

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Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson

Using various medical and psychological measurements, this study performed a randomized clinical trial with surgical patients to evaluate if plants in hospital rooms have therapeutic influences. Ninety patients recovering from an appendectomy were randomly assigned to hospital rooms with or without plants. Patients in the plant treatment room viewed eight species of foliage and flowering plants during their postoperative recovery periods. Data collected for each patient included length of hospitalization, analgesics used for postoperative pain control, vital signs, ratings of pain intensity, pain distress, anxiety, and fatigue, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Form Y-1, the Environmental Assessment Scale, and the Patient's Room Satisfaction Questionnaire. Patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had significantly fewer intakes of postoperative analgesics, more positive physiological responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate, lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their rooms when compared with patients in the control group. Findings of this research suggested that plants in a hospital environment could be noninvasive, inexpensive, and an effective complementary medicine for patients recovering from abdominal surgery.

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Sin-Ae Park, Chorong Song, Ji-Young Choi, Ki-Cheol Son and Yoshifumi Miyazaki

The study’s objective was to investigate the effects of foliage plants on prefrontal cortex activity and subjective assessments of psychological relaxation. In a crossover experimental design, 24 male university students in their 20s observed a container with and without foliage plants for 3 minutes while oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb) concentration in the prefrontal cortex was continuously measured with a portable near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy device. Afterward, subjective evaluations of emotions were obtained via two self-report questionnaires: a modified semantic differential (SD) method and the Profile of Mood State questionnaire (POMS). Oxy-Hb concentration in the right prefrontal cortex was significantly lower in subjects who viewed the foliage plants than in those who did not, indicating a physiologically relaxed state. The subjects also reported in the SD method significantly more positive emotions (e.g., comfortable, natural, and relaxed) associated with viewing the foliage plants. In the POMS, a significant positive effect on psychological relaxation when subjects viewed the foliage plants was shown. Thus, we conclude that foliage plants have both physiological and psychological relaxation effects in males even after only short exposure.

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Bo-Young Kim, Sin-Ae Park, Jong-Eun Song and Ki-Cheol Son

This study was conducted to determine the effects of a horticultural therapy (HT) program, based on B.F. Skinner’s behavior modification theory and special education science curriculum for Korean children with intellectual disabilities for the improvement of attention and sociality. Twenty-four participants (10 males, 14 females, in grades 1 to 3) with intellectual disabilities were recruited from a special education class at an elementary school in Seoul, South Korea. Twelve children participated in the HT program after-school for 6 months (Mar. to Aug. 2009, once per week, ≈40 min per session); the control group consisted of the remaining 12 children. Before and after the HT program, Conners’ teacher rating scales—revised and the social skills rating system assessments were conducted by parents/caregivers or teachers for each of the children. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and chi square tests were used to compare differences between the two groups. Difference in attention was not significant between groups. Children in the HT group had statistically significant higher sociality scores than those in the control group (P < 0.001). In conclusion, the HT program improved the sociality of children with intellectual disabilities. To maximize the therapeutic effects of the HT program for attention, the program should be revised and supplemented based on the results in this study. A larger sample size and factoring in the level of disability and year in school of the participants would increase the precision in assessing therapeutic effects.

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Elizabeth J. Phibbs and Diane Relf

Results of research on youth gardening programs indicate a variety of benefits; however, most studies to date have encountered difficulties in separating treatment effect from confounding variables. A survey of those recently involved in this type of research was conducted to identify common problems and generate suggestions for improving future research efforts. Problems reported as most frequently encountered include difficulty with timing and logistics, lack of funding, and finding and keeping sufficient numbers of participants. Suggestions for obtaining stronger results include: allowing plenty of time for planning, establishing good communication with collaborators, choosing topics relevant to funding agencies and policy makers, and creating interdisciplinary studies that are longitudinal or large-scale collaborative efforts.

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Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson

Medical and psychological measurements of surgical patients were tested to determine the influence of plants and flowers within hospital rooms. Eighty female patients recovering from a thyroidectomy were randomly assigned to either control or plant rooms. Patients in the plant room viewed 12 foliage and flowering plants during their postoperative recovery periods. Data collected for each patient included length of hospitalization, analgesics used for postoperative pain control, vital signs, ratings of pain intensity, pain distress, anxiety and fatigue, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Form Y-1, the Environmental Assessment Scale, and the Patient's Room Satisfaction Questionnaire. Patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had significantly shorter hospitalizations, fewer intakes of analgesics, lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their rooms when compared with patients in the control group. Findings of this research suggest the therapeutic value of plants in the hospital environment as an effective complementary medicine for surgical patients.

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Sin-Ae Park, Candice A. Shoemaker and Mark D. Haub

The objective of this study was to compare the physical and psychological health conditions and leisure-time activities, particularly physical activities (PAs), of older gardeners and nongardeners. Fifty-three older adults were recruited from the community of Manhattan, KS. Three groups were classified based on results from the Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors questionnaire: active gardeners (n = 11) classified as gardeners that met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) PA recommendation through gardening; gardeners (n = 14) classified as gardeners that did not meet the CDC's PA recommendation through gardening; and nongardeners (n = 28). Overall physical and mental health conditions were determined with the Short-Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36), hand function (hand strength and pinch force) was determined by dynamometers, and bone mineral density (BMD) was determined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Active gardeners were significantly different from gardeners and nongardeners in physical health (P ≤ 0.05) on SF-36. There were no differences in mental health among the three groups, but all groups had scores higher than the U.S. general population. Active gardeners + gardeners had greater hand strength and pinch force than nongardeners. There was no difference in BMD among the groups, but all subjects had higher scores than the standard BMD value for their age. The only significant difference of caloric expenditure in leisure-time PAs among the groups was gardening (P < 0.001). In conclusion, gardening can be a useful strategy to meet the CDC's PA recommendation. In addition to the health benefits linked to regular PA, this study showed that gardening promotes hand strength, pinch force, and overall physical health.

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Jane Dyrhauge Thomsen, Hans K.H. Sønderstrup-Andersen and Renate Müller

The study presented in this article represents an initial attempt to generate in-depth information about how ornamental plants in real-life office workplaces interact with workplace characteristics, thus influencing working environment and well-being of the employees. Using a qualitative, explorative, and inductive case-study design, the study provides an example of how a cross-disciplinary unit engaged in administrative office work at a Danish institution applied ornamental plants. The results document that ornamental plants are an integrated part of the workplace. The employees used ornamental plants in numerous ways to either actively manipulate different aspects of the surroundings or more passively cope with demands from the surroundings. Furthermore, the use of the ornamental plants was structured by a number of factors: culture and traditions, provisional orders, organizational structures, practices, values and history, company policies, and characteristics of the indoor architectural environment. Ornamental plants were perceived as affecting many aspects of the working environment (e.g., the physical surroundings, the social climate, image of the workplace, etc.), the individual's well-being (e.g., mood, general well-being, emotions, self confidence, etc.), and to some degree the workplace's competitiveness. However, the actual effects were the results of a complex interaction among the way the ornamental plants were applied, characteristics of the present ornamental plants (e.g., size, species and condition), and characteristics of the individual employee (e.g., personal experiences, preferences, and values).

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Sin-Ae Park, Sae-Room Oh, Kwan-Suk Lee and Ki-Cheol Son

This study used electromyographic analysis to investigate specific upper limb and hand muscle activation during 15 common horticultural activities. A total of 30 Korean adults between the ages of 20 and 30 years, with an average age of 24.8 years, were recruited from Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea. Electromyographic measurements were made using a portable four-channel electromyograph. Bipolar surface electromyography (EMG) electrodes were attached to six upper limb muscles (i.e., upper trapezius, triceps—long head, biceps brachialis, flexor carpi ulnaris, flexor carpi radialis, and brachioradialis) and two hand muscles (i.e., thenar eminence and hypothenar eminence) on the dominant hand. These eight muscles that were selected play a major role in the operation of upper limbs and hand muscles for upper body low-impact activities. Each participant did the 15 horticultural activities on one occasion with two separate sessions. Each activity was performed for 60 seconds followed by a 15-second rest period sitting at a table on a height-adjusted chair between each activity. All eight muscles measured were used together during most of 15 horticultural activities. Upper trapezius, thenar eminence, and hypothenar eminence had higher muscle activity than the other muscles. Triceps—long head displayed very low EMG values compared with the other muscles. The EMG data will facilitate developing scientific and research-based gardening intervention and/or horticultural therapy programs for improving physical health and physical rehabilitation.