Theoretical models for research and program development in agriculture and health care: avoiding random acts of research


  • P.D. Relf


The need to document the efficacy of nature-based therapeutic modalities is of concern to all who support and encourage this field of endeavour. While a relatively large body of information is available very few of the articles are published in clinical and medical journals that provide the underlying basis for academic, programmatic and policy decisions, and little of it is based on the high level of rigorous research needed to gain respect as a contributing part of health-care science. In addition, the difficulties in forming a coherent profession go beyond the lack of adequate and appropriate research to the core problem of uniform terminology in the field and coherent theoretical framework to guide the research and implementation of treatment. With that conclusion in mind, the majority of this paper will look at models (either as text or diagrams) that have been put forth, as a starting point for establishing effective theories of human–nature interaction in a therapeutic or treatment setting to guide future research in horticultural therapy (HT), animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and Agriculture in Healthcare programs. Based on the experiences discussed relevant to HT, recommendations for future action are given