Credentials Display

Yuko Mori, OTR/L; Julie Kugel, OTD, OTR/L; Dragana Krpalek, PhD, OTR/L; Heather Javaherian, OTD, OTR/L; Lida Gharibvand, PhD


Background: Chronic pain among individuals with cancer can adversely affect quality of life (QOL) and physical, social, and emotional functioning. Therapeutic horticulture has been shown to be effective for treating various medical conditions; however, the focus on cancer survivors with chronic pain is marginal. This study evaluated the effectiveness of therapeutic horticulture for women with cancer living with chronic pain.

Method: A mixed methods experimental design was used to examine the impact of a 6-week therapeutic horticulture program with seven females with cancer who presented with chronic pain for longer than 3 months. Perception of pain, QOL, and functional fitness were examined using quantitative measures followed by interviews and focus group discussions to explore the subjective experience of the program.

Results: Participation in the therapeutic horticulture program resulted in significant improvement in vitality (p = 0.018), lower body flexibility (p = 0.043), and agility and dynamic balance (p = 0.043). There were no significant changes in perception of pain. Four themes emerged from the qualitative data, illustrating the factors that contributed to the experience of the program.

Conclusion: Therapeutic horticulture is potentially beneficial as an occupation-based intervention for individuals with cancer living with chronic pain to improve vitality, lower body flexibility, and agility.