This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Mindfulness, Loneliness, and Gardening Experiences of Older Cancer Survivors Participating in a Vegetable Gardening Intervention




Busbee, Autumn Shay

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




Despite robust research on the mental benefits of gardening, the relationship between mindfulness, loneliness, and gardening, all topics that surged in public awareness due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has yet to be investigated. This study explored pandemic-related mindfulness, loneliness, and gardening and program experiences of participants in various stages of enrollment in Harvest for Health (H4H), a clinical research trial that examined the effects of a gardening intervention on the diet and exercise of older adults who had survived cancer. Study participants were surveyed and interviewed to determine differences in pre- and mid-pandemic mindfulness and loneliness and were assessed on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted gardening and interventional experiences. Major findings include: 1) H4H participation and gardening experiences were not negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, however other life events had the potential to cause participants to deprioritize gardening; 2) participant mindfulness and loneliness were affected by the pandemic and were inversely correlated with one another; 3) loneliness increased while mindfulness decreased due to the pandemic; 4) gardening interest was found to be negatively associated with loneliness; and 5) intervention status was positively associated with mindfulness, those who had completed or started intervention had higher levels of mindfulness than those who had yet to begin.