Houston Methodist Methodology Magazine - Fall 2019

Page 12


Bringing the Outside In

Cancer Center researchers are measuring the health impacts of gardens—rooftop and virtual by Laura Niles Which came first, the

reality component, since not all study participants, such as those

rooftop garden or

who are immunocompromised, can get outdoors.

the directional sign

Renee Stubbins, PhD, RD

Ashley Verzwyvelt, RN, OCN

to the rooftop garden?

“The Impact of Virtual Reality/Biophillic Environment on Distress

In the case of a

and Pain in Oncology Patients” is designed to observe 36 solid

blossoming project

tumor oncology patients who receive infusions every two weeks

to measure the impact

for at least six cycles. The participants will be randomly assigned

of both a real garden

to one of three rooms at each visit: control, virtual reality or garden

and a virtual environment

view. Data collection will occur in patients with various stages

on Houston Methodist Cancer Center oncology patients, the sign

and types of cancer and will measure both subjective and

came first. While pointing to a nonexistent garden, it planted the

objective components, including pain, stress, heart rate, blood

seed for a new clinical study and potentially an innovative patient

pressure and saliva cortisol levels before and after infusion.

therapy. As word of the endeavor spread, interest from community groups The misplaced sign appeared in the Outpatient Center, the work site

and charitable organizations continued to grow. The project now

of Renee Stubbins, PhD, RD, senior research oncology dietitian,

includes entities offering their work pro bono, including Skyline

and Ashley Verzwyvelt, RN, OCN, oncology infusion nurse liaison.

Art Services, landscape designers Asakura Robinson, the Trevino

After realizing the sign was a "mistake"—a preliminary notice for

Group and others. It also attracted the attention of Houston

future plans—the two co-workers were inspired to make inquiries.

muralist Mario Figueroa, Jr, better known as GONZO247, who

They learned what was required and then submitted a proposal

has donated his talents to paint a gardenscape as part of the

for a simple study to see what nature could do to improve patient


health and wellbeing during infusion therapy. On October 11, a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the official


To the researchers’ surprise and delight, the project grew

opening of the garden and mural installation, located on the 21st

exponentially. The Center for Health and Nature, the funding entity for

floor of the Outpatient Center. Data collection for the project is

the study, paired Stubbins and Verzwyvelt with Ann McNamara, PhD,

already underway. The next phase of the project will explore how

associate professor and associate head of the Department of

the garden may support clinician wellbeing, when used as a

Visualization at Texas A&M University. McNamara added a virtual

retreat for staff as well as patients.

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