Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Home Vegetable Gardening Intervention among Older Cancer Survivors Shows Feasibility, Satisfaction, and Promise in Improving Vegetable and Fruit Consumption, Reassurance of Worth, and the Trajectory of Central Adiposity.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Holistic approaches are sought to improve lifestyle behaviors and health of cancer survivors long term. OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to explore whether a home-based vegetable gardening intervention is feasible and whether it improves diet and other health-related outcomes among older cancer survivors. DESIGN: We conducted a feasibility trial in which cancer survivors were randomized to receive a year-long gardening intervention immediately or to a wait-list control arm. Home visits at baseline and 1 year assessed physical performance, anthropometric indices, behavioral and psychosocial outcomes, and biomarkers. PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: Participants included 46 older (aged 60+ years) survivors of locoregionally staged cancers across Alabama from 2014 to 2016. Forty-two completed 1-year follow-up. INTERVENTION: Cooperative extension master gardeners delivered guidance to establish three seasonal vegetable gardens at survivors' homes. Plants, seeds, and gardening supplies were provided. OUTCOMES: Primary outcomes were feasibility targets of 80% accrual and retention, and an absence of serious adverse events; other outcomes were secondary and explored potential benefits. STATISTICAL ANALYSES: Baseline to follow-up changes were assessed within and between arms using paired t, McNemar's, and χ2 tests. RESULTS: This trial proved to be safe and demonstrated 91.3% retention; 70% of intervention participants rated their experience as "excellent," and 85% would "do it again." Data suggest significantly increased reassurance of worth (+0.49 vs -0.45) and attenuated increases in waist circumference (+2.30 cm vs +7.96 cm) in the gardening vs control arms (P=0.02). Vegetable and fruit consumption increased by approximately 1 serving/day within the gardening arm from baseline to follow-up (mean [standard error]=1.34 [1.2] to 2.25 [1.9] servings/day; P=0.02)] compared to controls (1.22 [1.1] to 1.12 [0.7]; P=0.77; between-arm P=0.06). CONCLUSIONS: The home vegetable gardening intervention among older cancer survivors was feasible and suggested improvements in vegetable and fruit consumption and reassurance of worth; data also suggest attenuated increases in waist circumference. Continued study of vegetable gardening interventions is warranted to improve health, health behaviors, and well-being of older cancer survivors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Demark-Wahnefried, W; Cases, MG; Cantor, AB; Frugé, AD; Smith, KP; Locher, J; Cohen, HJ; Tsuruta, Y; Daniel, M; Kala, R; De Los Santos, JF

Published Date

  • April 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 118 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 689 - 704

PubMed ID

  • 29305129

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5869079

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2212-2672

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jand.2017.11.001


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States