Growing Healthy Hearts: a single-arm feasibility study of a digitally delivered gardening, cooking, and nutrition intervention for adults with risk factors for cardiovascular disease

Susan Veldheer, Maxfield Whitehead-Zimmers, Candace Bordner, Olivia Weinstein, Hena Choi, Kira Spreenberg-Bronsoms, Jason Davis, David E. Conroy, Kathryn Schmitz, Christopher Sciamanna

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Background: Food gardening may positively influence cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk-related behaviors. However, the vast majority of existing gardening interventions have used an in-person delivery model which has limitations for scalability. It is not known whether a digitally delivered gardening intervention would be feasible or acceptable to participants. The purpose of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility of a digitally delivered gardening intervention in three domains: participant acceptability, demand, and practicality. Methods: A single-arm, pre-post-study design was used. Participants (n = 30) were aged 20 + with no plans to garden in the coming season and had at least 1 CVD risk factor. The intervention included ten 1-h video-conferencing sessions, written materials, and access to a study website. Content focused on gardening skills, cooking skills, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Feasibility outcomes included acceptability (post-program ratings), demand (session attendance rate), and practicality (ability to start a garden and grow F&V). The study was considered feasible if the following criteria were met: ≥ 70% rated the intervention as good or excellent, overall session attendance rate was ≥ 70%, and > 70% were able to start a garden and grow F&V. We also assessed pre-post-program changes in behavioral mediators (gardening confidence, gardening enjoyment, cooking confidence, and nutrition knowledge). Descriptive statistics were calculated. Pre-post differences were evaluated with means and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Effect sizes were calculated (Cohen’s d). Results: All feasibility criteria were met. A total of 93.3% of participants rated the intervention as good or excellent, 96% started a garden and grew F&V, and the overall session attendance rate was 81%. The largest mean pre-post changes were in gardening confidence (pre 7.1 [95% CI: 6.4, 7.9], post 9.0 [95% CI: 8.6, 9.5], Cohen’s d = 1.15), gardening enjoyment (pre: 6.3 [95% CI: 5.9, 6.7], post: 7.5 [95% CI: 7.1, 7.9], Cohen’s d = 1.69), and cooking self-efficacy (pre: 4.7 [95% CI: 4.3, 5.1], post: 7.7 [95% CI: 7.3, 8.0], Cohen’s d = 3.0). Conclusion: A digitally delivered gardening intervention was feasible, acceptable to participants, and they had meaningful changes in behavioral mediators. The next step is to evaluate the impact of the intervention in a future randomized controlled trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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