Anxiety improved equally among palliative care patients who received massage either with or without aromatherapy, according to a recent systematic review.
The review, “The effects of aromatherapy massage on improvement of anxiety among patients receiving palliative care,” focused on three randomized controlled trials. These three studies involved a total of 160 participants receiving palliative care at home, in palliative care centers or in outpatient aromatherapy clinics.
In order to be included for review, each study had to feature anxiety as a main outcome measure, and the research had to compare massage with aromatherapy to massage without aromatherapy. The massage without aromatherapy consisted of massage with a carrier oil, and the massage with aromatherapy consisted of massage with essential oil.
Roman chamomile oil was used for the aromatherapy massage in one of the studies, whereas Roman chamomile oil combined with a sweet almond carrier was used in another. The third study employed Santalum album oil combined with sweet almond carrier oil for the aromatherapy massage.
Each study lasted at least three weeks, with participants in the control groups receiving massage without aromatherapy and participants in the intervention groups receiving massage with aromatherapy. Follow-up assessments were conducted anywhere from one to 12 weeks after the massage intervention had ended.
Results of the analysis showed improvements in anxiety among participants in both the intervention and control groups, with no significant difference in improvement between those who received aromatherapy massage and those who received massage without aromatherapy.
“Our summarized result showed no significant [mean difference] between the intervention and the control groups. Thus, we inferred that the improvement in the intervention group was mainly caused by massage,” state the study’s authors.
“This result should be interpreted with caution because of the limited number of trials available for review. Additional [randomized controlled trials] are warranted to adequately assess the effect of aromatherapy massage on patients receiving palliative care.”
Authors: Chia-Hsien Hsu, Ching-Chi Chi, Pei-Shih Chen, Shu-Hui Want, Tao-Hsin Tung and Shih-Chung Wu.
Sources: Department of Public Health, College of Health Science, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Department of Dermatology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou, Taoyuan, Taiwan; College of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan, Taiwan; Department of Dermatology, Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan; Graduate Institute of Applied Science and Engineering, College of Science and Engineering, Fu Jen Catholic University, New Taipei, Taiwan; Department of Medical Research and Education, Cheng Hsin General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan; and Department of Surgery, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Originally published online in March 2019 in Medicine, 98(9).