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Objectives: Older adults living in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) may be vulnerable to mental health issues. Evidence suggests greenery is beneficial for adults’ mental health in community settings. This review aims to summarise evidence of associations between greenery in RACFs and residents’ mental health. Method: Six databases were searched with three sets of terms related to: (1) exposure (e.g. garden, green); (2) outcome (e.g. mental health, well-being); and (3) setting (e.g. aged care, nursing home). The inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed journal articles published in English up to 2017, reporting quantitative/qualitative associations between greenery and mental health in RACFs. Results: Of the nine articles identified, seven reported positive associations between greenery (in particular, garden use) at RACFs and some aspect of residents’ mental well-being (e.g. quality of life); however, four out of seven studies used observations and perceptions of staff and relatives. One study examined depression and reported reduction in depression following garden use, while one examined physiological indicators of stress (blood pressure, heart rate) and found no association with garden use. Seven studies examined garden use and four examined the presence of greenery (two examined both exposures). Conclusion: Exposure to greenery and use of greenspace in RACFs show promise for promoting mental health. However, the findings relied mainly on non-validated measures of mental health. More robust evidence based on valid and reliable mental health measures is needed. Future studies also need to examine the effect of visual exposure to greenery and the effect of greenery on stress reduction.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

Access Rights

Open Access


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Aging and Mental Health on 15 Nov 2018, available online: