With the increasing emphasis on personalised care and social prescribing, it’s a question that has increasing weight in the minds of commissioners and health and social care professionals.
A new study has set out to provide a comprehensive answer, looking at the depth and breadth of available evidence for the impact of gardens and gardening on physical and mental health.
Academics from Salford and Liverpool universities reviewed 77 studies published since 1990 involving gardening that had a measurable health or wellbeing outcome.
In particular, the study looked at the benefits of gardening for those with long-term conditions (LTCs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and chronic respiratory disorders.
Behind this was a recognition that there is increasing demand for non-medical ways to help patients who come to GPs with unmet social needs.
The review found reliable evidence that gardening can improve body mass index, blood pressure, cortisol and blood glucose levels, as well as improving mental health.
Using gardens and gardening as a social prescription could benefit a ‘diverse’ range of people with long-term conditions, say researchers, ‘helping improve mental, physical and physiological outcomes’.
As a social prescription, nature-based solutions, such as gardening, provide clinicians with an evidence-based opportunity to promote well-being through non-medical methods.Report authors
This also has the potential to minimise ‘inappropriate’ visits to GPs and A&E while improving people’s resilience.
The study concludes: ‘As a social prescription, nature-based solutions, such as gardening, provide clinicians with an evidence-based opportunity to promote well-being through non-medical methods.
‘Gardens and gardening can improve the health and well-being for people with a range of health and social needs.’
The full report can be read here