Aromatherapy effects on Patient Experience

Aromatherapy effects on Patient Experience

Aromatherapy effects on Patient Experience

Aromatherapy refers to the practice of inhaling essential oils with the intention of enhancing one’s health and well-being. Essential oils have been utilized for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years. In fact, records of their usage in ancient Egypt date back over 5,000 years. 

Reviving interest in essential oils for both home and hospital usage may be attributed to the growing popularity of integrative medicine. It is in our best interest as holistic clinicians to become well-versed in the use of essential oils if the available research suggests they may play a role in patient experience and improve outcomes.

In 2010, a study was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that evaluated the effects of aromatherapy on patient experience. Participants (n=50) were randomized to one of three groups: essential oil blend applied via an essential oil diffusion system, non-essential oil control blend, or room air. Participants answered questionnaires assessing mood, anxiety, comfort level, and pain at baseline, 30 minutes post-aromatherapy, and at discharge. Results showed improvements in pain scores (p=0.03), anxiety scores (p=0.01), comfort level (p<0.001) and mood (p<0.001) after aromatherapy. Patients who experienced improvement in all of these areas were more likely to report higher satisfaction with their care, which could have practical implications for the patient experience in a clinical setting. 

Evidence from literature suggests that essential oils may play a role in improving patient experience. However, more research is needed before any definite conclusions can be made. More rigorous studies need to be performed with larger sample sizes and more diverse participants. The use of several essential oils with diverse chemical compositions may help to demonstrate the effects of aromatherapy on multiple patients. Also, the outcomes of aromatherapy should be contrasted with each other based on the content of each recipe.

There are a few different ways in which aromatherapy might improve patient experience. Aromatherapy should be able to positively impact all aspects of patient experience, which means that it can’t just be a placebo effect. Methods by which these effects could occur include directly affecting mood and anxiety, improving physical well-being and comfort levels; creating a more relaxing and comfortable atmosphere for the patient, aiding in settling anxiety prior to procedures, or making patients more likely to seek out alternative options. Even if aromatherapy doesn’t directly affect all of these areas, patients who are more relaxed and comfortable in the hospital environment are likely to experience a better care experience.

Aromatherapy may play an important role in improving patient experience as well as shortening patient length of stay and reducing pain medication requirements. It is important to consider the differences between research with varying degrees of rigor (including non-randomized studies), particularly when examining evidence supporting aromatherapy’s effects on the patient experience. 

While further research is needed, aromatherapy has shown promise as a way to improve and enhance the overall patient experience.


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