Therapeutic day rehabilitation (TDR) is a non-residential intensive structured program designed for individuals recovering from substance misuse. A weekly afternoon of therapeutic gardening was a new incentive initiated in a TDR program at one Australian community health service, designed to give participants the opportunity to spend time outdoors connecting with nature and each other. The aim of this study was to explore perceptions of participants enrolled in this program by employing a convergent parallel mixed-method design using qualitative individual, semi-structured interviews (n = 14) and longitudinal quantitative quality of life (QOL) data at three different intervals (n = 17). The analysis of the quantitative data showed that there was a statistically significant increase in the participants' QOL scores in three of four domains (physical health, psychological, social relationships) when comparing baseline and post completion of the TDR. These observed changes were maintained at the 4-week follow up. The key findings from the semi-structured interviews include positive effects for participants on social connectivity, structure and achievement, understanding of recovery and relaxation from contact with nature. This study shows that a combination of TDR and therapeutic gardening can improve participants' physical health, psychological health and social relationships.
- community healthcare
- mixed methods
- nature experiences
- non-residential rehabilitation programs
- program development and outcomes
- quality of life
- therapeutic gardening