Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Mindfulness, Loneliness, and Gardening Experiences of Older Cancer Survivors Participating in a Vegetable Gardening Intervention
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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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.