Online Program

Urban farming as an intervention to improve psychological distress among individuals with HIV

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Julia Lopez, PhD, MPH, LCSW, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO
Enbal Shacham, PhD, College for Public Health and Social Justice, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
Jake Gilliland, MPH student, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice, St. Louis, MO
Background: Individuals with HIV commonly report depressive symptomatology, which has been associated with medication nonadherence. This study aimed to test the feasibility and limited efficacy of an urban farming intervention on individuals with HIV who expressed depressive symptoms.

Methods: Individuals who had previously been lost to HIV care were recruited to participate in a 12 week urban farming intervention by a community nurse. A total of 14 participants began the intervention, with 9 completing the 12-week intervention. Participants were asked to come 4 hours per week; 2 hours with the whole group, which included gardening and nutrition/cooking lessons; and 2 hours were to be completed at any time each week to allow for work on their garden plot. Pre- and post-tests were administered to measure psychological distress and health behaviors.

Results:  Of the 9 participants who completed the intervention, 8 were African American 1 was Caucasian. At baseline, participants reported moderate-severe depressive symptoms and overall general health as fair. Depressive symptoms and perceptions of general health improved significantly from baseline to follow-up interviews (p<0.05). Additionally, 50% of the participants who reported smoking every day at baseline did not report smoking every day at the follow-up interview.

Conclusions: This pilot intervention shows promise as an opportunity to address psychological distress and improving chronic-disease-related behaviors. In response to improvements in HIV care, providing meaningful work and opportunities for social support, not specific to coping with HIV, should be explored. Bringing programs like these to scale would require changes in HIV-related social services.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the benefits of urban farming interventions for populations with HIV Describe changes in psychological distress in relation to the intervention.

Keyword(s): HIV Interventions, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student working on HIV research. I was the project coordinator on this pilot intervention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 2030.0: Community-Based HIV Practice