Plant Therapy: a Nonpharmacological and Noninvasive Treatment Approach Medically Beneficial to the Wellbeing of Hospital Patients

Pflanzentherapie: ein nichtpharmakologischer und nichtinvasiver Behandlungsansatz mit medizinischem Nutzen für das Wohlbefinden von Krankenhauspatienten

Abstract

A green atmosphere and interaction with nature (plants and flowers) can considerably improve the human senses and sanity by decreasing the stress associated with anxiety, depression, neurotic impairment, and other psychologic symptoms. The current paper reports a therapeutic horticultural study’s findings regarding the effect of indoor foliage plants and flower arrangements on health prospects of surgical patients. Two surgical wards, ward A (with foliage plants and arranged flowers) and ward B (without foliage plants and flowers), were selected for the study. A total of 270 patients were randomly assigned to either ward to give 135 patients in each. Patients admitted to ward A had significantly more optimistic and promising health improvements than those in ward B. Provision of foliage plants and flower arrangements to the patients in ward A resulted in shorter postoperative stays, lower intake of analgesics, lower pain intensity, less stress fatigue, and improved vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature) as compared to patients in ward B. Moreover, analyses showed that patients in ward A had a stronger psychologic frame of mind regarding their recovery from surgery and had more positive emotions and feelings regarding their stay in the hospital. They also felt that the ward atmosphere was more calming, pleasant, and satisfactory. Additionally, small group discussions and focal interviews with ward doctors and nurses confirmed the findings of the questionnaire that foliage plants & flower arrangements create a cherished environment in the ward, reduce patients’ stress, improve medical and psychologic status of patients, and also conveye positive messages of the hospital. These findings confirm the therapeutic value of horticultural activities, particularly in surgical patients in a stressed hospital setting.

Zusammenfassung

Eine grüne Atmosphäre und die Interaktion mit Pflanzen (Grünpflanzen und Blumen) können die menschlichen Sinne und die mentale Gesundheit durch Abbau von durch Ängsten, Depressionen, neurotische Beeinträchtigungen und andere psychologische Symptome hervorgerufenem Stress beträchtlich verbessern. Der vorliegende Artikel berichtet von den Ergebnissen einer Studie über therapeutische Hortikultur bezüglich der Auswirkungen von Zimmerpflanzen und Blumenarrangements auf die gesundheitliche Perspektive chirurgischer Patienten. Zwei chirurgische Stationen, Station A (mit Grünpflanzen und Blumenarrangements) und Station B (ohne Grünpflanzen und Blumen) wurden für die Studie ausgewählt. Insgesamt 270 Patienten wurden untersucht, die nach dem Zufallsprinzip so den Stationen zugeteilt wurden, dass in jeder Station 135 Patienten lagen. Die Patienten in Station A zeigten signifikant optimistisch stimmendere und vielversprechendere gesundheitliche Verbesserungen als die auf Station B. Die Ausstattung von Station A mit Grünpflanzen und Blumenarrangements für die Patienten führte zu weniger postoperativen Krankenhaustagen, weniger Schmerzmitteleinsatz, geringerer gefühlter Schmerzintensität, Stress und Müdigkeit bei verbesserten Vitalparametern (Blutdruck, Puls, Atemfrequenz und Körpertemperatur) im Vergleich zu den Patienten auf Station B. Außerdem zeigte eine Analyse, dass die Patienten auf Station A angesichts ihrer Erholung von der Operation in besserer psychischer Verfassung waren und dem Krankenhausaufenthalt gegenüber positiver eingestellt waren. Sie fanden die Atmosphäre auf der Station beruhigend, angenehm und zufriedenstellend. Darüber hinaus bestätigten Gespräche in Kleingruppen und fokussierte Interviews mit Stationsärzten und dem Pflegepersonal die Ergebnisse des Fragebogens, dass Grünpflanzen und Blumenarrangements auf der Station ein Umfeld schaffen, das wertgeschätzt wird, den Stress der Patienten senkt, den medizinischen und psychologischen Zustand der Patienten verbessert und das Krankenhaus in ein positives Licht rückt. Diese Ergebnisse bestätigen den therapeutischen Wert von Aktivitäten der Pflanzenpflege bei chirurgischen Patienten im stressbehafteten Krankenhausumfeld.

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Acknowledgements

Authors are greatly thankful to The University of Agriculture Peshawar for funding the project and Dr. Ma Nan, Associate Professor, Department of Ornamental Horticulture, China Agriculture University Beijing for his technical proof reading and revision of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Muhammad Ali Khan.

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M.A. Khan, N. Amin, A. Khan, M. Imtiaz, F. Khan, I. Ahmad, A. Ali, and B. Islam declare that they have no conflict of interest regarding publishing this manuscript.

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee ethical standards and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Muhammad Ali Khan and Noorul Amin contributed equally.

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Ali Khan, M., Amin, N., Khan, A. et al. Plant Therapy: a Nonpharmacological and Noninvasive Treatment Approach Medically Beneficial to the Wellbeing of Hospital Patients. Gesunde Pflanzen 68, 191–200 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10343-016-0377-1

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Keywords

  • Horticultural therapy
  • Patients health
  • Vital signs
  • Pain analgesics
  • Hospitalization days

Schlüsselwörter

  • Pflanzentherapie
  • Patientengesundheit
  • Vitalparameter
  • Schmerzmittel
  • Krankenhaustage