Collections > Master's Papers > Gillings School of Public Health > Free Farm Produce in the Outpatient Psychiatry Waiting Room: A Feasibility Study

Background: People with mental illness suffer worse physical health and die significantly earlier than do those in the general population. Preventable cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of morbidity and mortality among this patient population. There is inadequate access to minimally disruptive health services tailored for the psychiatric patient population. Methods: The intervention brings free vegetables and eggs from the Farm at Penny Lane (Pittsboro, NC) to a local outpatient mental health clinic (Carrboro, NC). The intervention also incorporates education on healthy eating for patients in the clinic waiting room. Using observational data and survey data, I collected feedback on the feasibility and acceptability of this intervention from patients, clinic staff, farm staff, and medical students. Results: All stakeholders rated the service favorably. Suggestions for improvement included organizing recipe demonstrations, recruiting more volunteers to help at the farm, and providing more bags for patients to carry the produce. Medical students noted lack of time to be the main obstacle to helping implement the intervention. Conclusion: While the intervention received favorable feedback, more rigorous effectiveness research will help better characterize the specific strengths of the intervention and their effects on long-term health outcomes. Future iterations may consider adding more research personnel and employing a different research design. Researchers interested in pursuing such interventions will need to consider the culture of the study community, existing infrastructure and resources, and research designs that will best fit the main objective of their study.