Participants from eight countries met in Australia in July 1998 for the International People-Plant Symposium titled “Towards a New Millennium in People-Plant Relationships.” There were about 75 presentations arranged under three general headings: 1) plants, cultural diversity, and environmental quality, 2) plants for human health and well-being, and 3) plant and horticultural education—community and schools. The symposium represented another step in the dissemination of information and awareness on people-plant relationships.
In August 1998, there were two symposia concerning human-horticulture relationships held at the International Horticultural Congress. The speakers at the first symposium introduced many activities that are occurring in this field around the world. The second symposium addressed allotment and community gardens. A brief summary of these symposia is presented.
The Korean Society for Plants, People and Environment held its first International Symposium on Plant and People Interactions in Human Health and Quality of Life in May 1998. Three speakers, invited from abroad, were among those who made presentations. A summary is presented.
Caroline H. Pearson-Mims and Virginia I. Lohr
Interiorscaping has been prevalent in office environments in the United States since the 1960s. Historically, proponents of interior plantings have cited numerous benefits, including improved employee morale, increased productivity, and reduced absenteeism when plants are added to the workplace, despite little scientific research to support these claims. Contemporary research is beginning to document some of these purported benefits of interior plantings on human comfort, well-being, and productivity. If researchers continue to provide concrete evidence that interaction with plants is directly linked to improved human health and well-being, this information will provide further justification for the use of interior plants in a variety of indoor work settings. With an ever-increasing emphasis by business managers on minimizing costs, it is important for industry professionals to provide quantifiable justification for the inclusion of plants in modern work environments.
Virginia I. Lohr and Caroline H. Pearson-Mims
A well-known research report showed that being in a hospital room with a view of trees rather than a view of a building was linked to the use of fewer pain-reducing medications by patients recovering from surgery. The experiment reported here was designed to further examine the role of plants in pain perception. We found that more subjects were willing to keep a hand submerged in ice water for 5 min if they were in a room with plants present than if they were in a room without plants. This was found to be true even when the room without plants had other colorful objects that might help the subject focus on something other than the discomfort. Results from a room assessment survey confirmed that the room with colorful, nonplant objects was as interesting and colorful as the room with plants present, but the presence of plants was perceived as making the air in the room fresher.
Plants are widely used in building environments; however, studies reporting the health and discomfort symptoms of people in response to indoor foliage plants are few. The objective of the presented studies was to assess the effect of foliage plants or a combination of foliage plants and full-spectrum fluorescent lamps on self-reported health and discomfort complaints in three different work environments: an office building, an X-ray department in a Norwegian hospital, and a junior high school. Health and discomfort symptoms were found to be 21% to 25% lower during the period when subjects had plants or plants and full-spectrum lighting present compared to a period without plants. Neuropsychological symptoms, such as fatigue and headache, and mucous membrane symptoms, such as dry and hoarse throat, seemed to be more affected by the treatments than skin symptoms, such as itching skin.
Candice A. Shoemaker, Paula Diane Relf, and Virginia I. Lohr
Many of the research questions that have been posed regarding the effects of plants on people can only be answered using methodologies from the social sciences. Lack of familiarity with these methods and their underlying concepts has limited the role that horticulturists have taken in this research. Horticulturists, because of their particular sensitivity to the various aspects of plants and the nature of the ways that people interact with plants, must be involved in this type of research to generate the information that is needed by horticultural industries. This paper reviews many of the common methods that have been used in research on human issues in horticulture and presents examples of studies that have been conducted using these techniques. Quantitative and qualitative methods are discussed.
Virginia I. Lohr and Paula Diane Relf
Throughout history, plants have been used to benefit people. In the United States, formal research to document the impacts of plants on people was not published until the 1970s, when papers from social and medical scientists began to appear. In the 1990s, symposia, including the first on “The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development,” brought people together from around the world to share and expand their knowledge in this emerging field. Symposium participants have included researchers in the social sciences and plant sciences, practitioners in horticultural therapy, teachers in colleges and public gardens, industry representatives applying the knowledge, and more. This has formed the basis for current activities in research, teaching, and practice throughout the United States. Examples from research that now documents a variety of beneficial impacts of plants on people are discussed.
Sheri Dorn, Lucy Bradley, Debbie Hamrick, Julie Weisenhorn, Pam Bennett, Jill Callabro, Bridget Behe, Ellen Bauske, and Natalie Bumgarner
work of Hall and Dickson (2011) which offered a compilation of benefits received from CH. This study summarized the peer-reviewed literature that documents benefits of plants to people in three areas: economic, environmental, and health and well
Research on human issues in horticulture focuses on the human dimension of horticulture in an effort to maximize the benefits of plants and nature in general, for human well-being. A key issue is the need for scientific evidence of such benefits and for rigorous research methods to reveal the mechanics of the interaction between people and plants. Conjoint analysis, a methodology with obvious potential for successful application in the area of human issues in horticulture, is widely used in consumer research to estimate the structure of people's reactions to multi-attribute objects or services. This paper discusses the steps involved in implementing conjoint analysis and describes how it can be applied to people–plant research.