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Effects of Horticultural Therapy on Mood and Heart Rate in Patients Participating in an Inpatient Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program

Wichrowski, Matthew HTR; Whiteson, Jonathan MD; Haas, François PhD; Mola, Ana RN, ANP; Rey, Mariano J. MD

Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation: September-October 2005 - Volume 25 - Issue 5 - p 270-274

PURPOSE: To assess the effects of horticultural therapy (HT) on mood state and heart rate (HR) in patients participating in an inpatient cardiac rehabilitation program.

METHODS: Cardiac rehabilitation inpatients (n = 107) participated in the study. The HT group consisted of 59 subjects (34 males, 25 females). The control group, which participated in patient education classes (PECs), consisted of 48 subjects (31 males, 17 females). Both HT sessions and PEC are components of the inpatient rehabilitation program. Each group was evaluated before and after a class in their respective modality. Evaluation consisted of the completion of a Profile of Mood States (POMS) inventory, and an HR obtained by pulse oximetry.

RESULTS: Changes in the POMS total mood disturbance (TMD) score and HR between preintervention and postintervention were compared between groups. There was no presession difference in either TMD score (16 ± 3.6 and 19.0 ± 3.2, PEC and HT, respectively)or HR (73.5 ± 2.5 and 79 ± 1.8, PEC and HT, respectively). Immediately following the intervention, the HT TMD was significantly reduced (post-TMD = 1.6 ± 3.2, P < .001), while PEC TMD was not significantly changed (TMD = 17.0 ± 28.5). After intervention, HR fell in HT by 4 ± 9.6 bpm (P < .001) but was unchanged in PEC.

CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that HT improves mood state, suggesting that it may be a useful tool in reducing stress. Therefore, to the extent that stress contributes to coronary heart disease, these findings support the role of HT as an effective component of cardiac rehabilitation.

Following a session of horticultural therapy, inpatient cardiac rehabilitation subjects demonstrated a significant increase in the "Profile of Mood State" score and a reduced heart rate. These data indicate that horticultural therapy can improve mood and reduce stress and support its the role as an effective component of cardiac rehabilitation.

From the Joan and Joel Smilow Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation Center, The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, NY.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.