A home-based mentored vegetable gardening intervention demonstrates feasibility and improvements in physical activity and performance among breast cancer survivors

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: The current study assessed the feasibility of a mentored home-based vegetable gardening intervention and examined changes in health-related outcomes among breast cancer survivors (BCS). METHODS: BCS were randomized to either a year-long vegetable gardening intervention to begin immediately or a wait-list control. Master Gardeners mentored participants in planning, planting, and maintaining 3 seasonal gardens over the course of 1 year. Participant accrual, retention, and satisfaction rates of ≥80% served as feasibility (primary outcome) benchmarks. Secondary outcomes (ie, vegetable consumption, physical activity, performance and function, anthropometrics, biomarkers, and health-related quality of life) were collected at baseline and post-intervention (1-year follow-up) using subjective and objective measures. RESULTS: The trial surpassed all feasibility benchmarks at 82% of targeted accrual, 95% retention, and 100% satisfaction (ie, experience ratings of “good to excellent” and willingness to “do it again”). Compared with the controls, intervention participants reported significantly greater improvements in moderate physical activity (+14 vs -17 minutes/week) and demonstrated improvements in the 2-Minute Step Test (+22 vs + 10 steps), and Arm Curl (+2.7 vs + 0.1 repetitions) (P values <.05). A trend toward improved vegetable consumption was observed (+0.9 vs + 0.2 servings/day; P =.06). Approximately 86% of participants were continuing to garden at the 2-year follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the current study suggest that a mentored, home-based vegetable gardening intervention is feasible and offers an integrative and durable approach with which to improve health behaviors and outcomes among BCS. Harvest for Health led to the establishment of a group of trained Master Gardeners and gave rise to local and global community-based programs. Larger studies are needed to confirm the results presented herein and to define applicability across broader populations of survivors.
  • Published In

  • Cancer  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bail JR; Frugé AD; Cases MG; De Los Santos JF; Locher JL; Smith KP; Cantor AB; Cohen HJ; Demark-Wahnefried W
  • Start Page

  • 3427
  • End Page

  • 3435
  • Volume

  • 124
  • Issue

  • 16