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Daily home gardening improved survival for older people with mobility limitations: An 11-year follow-up study in Taiwan

Authors Lêng CH, Wang J

Received 25 February 2016

Accepted for publication 14 April 2016

Published 15 July 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 947—959


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Zhi-Ying Wu

Chhian Hūi Lêng,1,2 Jung-Der Wang3–5

1Institute of Allied Health Sciences, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, 2School of Medical Sociology and Social Work, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, 3Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, 4Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 5Department of Internal Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan

To test the hypothesis that gardening is beneficial for survival after taking time-dependent comorbidities, mobility, and depression into account in a longitudinal middle-aged (50–64 years) and older (≥65 years) cohort in Taiwan.
Methods: The cohort contained 5,058 nationally sampled adults ≥50 years old from the Taiwan Longitudinal Study on Aging (1996–2007). Gardening was defined as growing flowers, gardening, or cultivating potted plants for pleasure with five different frequencies. We calculated hazard ratios for the mortality risks of gardening and adjusted the analysis for socioeconomic status, health behaviors and conditions, depression, mobility limitations, and comorbidities. Survival models also examined time-dependent effects and risks in each stratum contingent upon baseline mobility and depression. Sensitivity analyses used imputation methods for missing values.
Results: Daily home gardening was associated with a high survival rate (hazard ratio: 0.82; 95% confidence interval: 0.71–0.94). The benefits were robust for those with mobility limitations, but without depression at baseline (hazard ratio: 0.64, 95% confidence interval: 0.48–0.87) when adjusted for time-dependent comorbidities, mobility limitations, and depression. Chronic or relapsed depression weakened the protection of gardening. For those without mobility limitations and not depressed at baseline, gardening had no effect. Sensitivity analyses using different imputation methods yielded similar results and corroborated the hypothesis.
Conclusion: Daily gardening for pleasure was associated with reduced mortality for Taiwanese >50 years old with mobility limitations but without depression.

Keywords: gardening, mortality, leisure activity, survival, epidemiology

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