CASE STUDY: OVERVIEW OF NOVA INSTITUTION THERAPEUTIC HORTICULTURE PROGRAM AND CHALLENGES ENCOUNTERED ATTEMPTING TO CONDUCT RESEARCH WITH THIS CLIENT GROUP
Correctional Services Canada (CSC) is the federal agency responsible for managing offender sentences with a term of two years or more. Within Canada, there are five institutions that house federally-sentenced women. Nova Institution for Women (Nova) is the federal institution located in Truro, Nova Scotia. It is a multi-level institution that opened in the fall of 1995. Since its inception, Nova Institution has maintained a therapeutic horticulture program called the Horticulture Skills Training Program. The primary goal of the program is vocational skills. A secondary goal is to promote and enhance life skills, including self-esteem and self-confidence. The women involved in the program plant, maintain, and harvest an organic vegetable garden, along with performing landscape maintenance of the grounds at the institution. The author recently entered a proposal to conduct research on the program to determine if changes in the levels of self-esteem, personal internal and external efficacy of the participants could be determined. Some of the obstacles faced while trying to conduct research with this population were the perceived risk of bias, attrition issues, and ethical concerns related to researching a vulnerable population. These concerns were raised by the two Research Ethics Boards, during approval of the proposal; one of the Boards subsequently denied the research proposal. A review of the literature showed that the most pertinent information and research of horticultural therapy has been conducted in elder care and, most notably, there is a lack of valid information that pertains to horticultural therapy and incarcerated individuals. Given the necessity for scientifically-sound data related to this client group, practitioners may need to develop alternative methods for conducting research. This case study will review the relevant literature; define the suitability and importance of conducting research at Nova; describe the proposed research methodology and discuss the responses of, and lessons to be learned from, the ethical review bodies.
Chisholm , L. and Goodyear, S.N. (2012). CASE STUDY: OVERVIEW OF NOVA INSTITUTION THERAPEUTIC HORTICULTURE PROGRAM AND CHALLENGES ENCOUNTERED ATTEMPTING TO CONDUCT RESEARCH WITH THIS CLIENT GROUP. Acta Hortic. 954, 91-97
horticulture, therapy, incarcerated, prison, attrition, bias