Effectiveness of Aromatherapy Massage in the Management of Anxiety and Depression in Patients With Cancer: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial

We examined whether aromatherapy massage produced greater improvement on self-reported anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and global quality of life

Susie M. Wilkinson; Sharon B. Love; Alex M. Westcombe; Maureen A. Gambles; Caroline C. Burgess; Anna Cargill; Teresa Young; E. Jane Maher; Amanda J. Ramirez


Scholarcy highlights

  • Section: Aromatherapy massage is one of the most popular complementary therapies among patients with cancer and the most widely practiced within cancer care settings. Aromatherapy massage has been shown to relieve self-reported symptoms of anxiety in the immediate aftermath of the therapy, and patients perceive aromatherapy massage as positive and beneficial. Aromatherapy oils administered by inhalation without massage do not appear to reduce anxiety. The effect of aromatherapy on levels of clinically important anxiety and depression is unknown, as is whether any psychological benefit is sustained beyond the immediate aftermath of the therapy.Robust evaluation of effectiveness of aromatherapy massage is important
  • Self-reported anxiety improved significantly more for patients receiving aromatherapy massage compared with those receiving usual care only at both 6 and 10 weeks postrandomization
  • Section: We have shown that four weekly sessions of aromatherapy massage improves clinical anxiety and/or depression experienced by cancer patients up to 2 weeks after the end of the intervention
  • Improvement in self-reported anxiety was evident up to 6 weeks postintervention, we found no evidence of benefit for aromatherapy massage on pain, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, or global quality of life at either assessment point
  • This trial of aromatherapy massage in clinical practice has addressed many of the criticisms leveled at research evaluating the effectiveness of complementary therapies
  • Of particular importance was the use of structured interviews and modified standardized diagnostic criteria to assess changes in anxiety and depression, which means we can make inferences regarding the clinical significance of the effect of aromatherapy
  • In the context of these exclusions, the results of this trial suggest that aromatherapy massage is an effective therapeutic option for the short-term management of mild to moderate anxiety and depression in patients with cancer

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