Researchers from the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University in Japan investigated the impact of a 5-min stay in a hospital's rooftop forest on relaxation in elderly patients requiring care.
This was a within-subject, cross-sectional study where the participants were 30 elderly female patients requiring help in walking, with an average age of 81.
Responses were measured with a simplified emotional 7-point rating
scale, ranging from -3 to +3 for 5 pairs of emotions. This instrument
was derived from the two-question Whooley Depression Screen and was used
as a subjective indicator.
The experimental areas were the rooftop forest that covered an area of 122 square meters (roughly 400 square feet) on the rooftop of a four-story health service facility and an outdoor car park area (as the control condition).
The participants were instructed to sit still in a wheelchair and view the scenery for 5 min in each experimental area and were then assessed. Data from the participants during exposure to the rooftop forest were compared with those during exposure to the control area.
First, 15 participants moved to the rooftop forest from the preroom, and the other 15 moved to the outdoor car park area, and then they moved to the other site to eliminate any order effect.
In the rooftop forest, the mean scores of the simplified emotional rating were 1.70 (1.17 for control) for "hopeful", 1.70 (1.17) for "interest in doing things", 1.53 (1.10) for "enjoyment", 1.67 (1.17) for "calm", and 2.03 (1.30) for "secure". The scores were all significantly higher than those in the control (p<0.01).
The investigators conclude that a visit to the rooftop forest induced a significant subjective relaxing effect in elderly female patients requiring care.