The Effect of Aromatherapy on Anxiety Experienced by Hospital Nurses

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Hospital nursing is associated with high levels of work-related stress and anxiety. Alleviation of environmental stressors may be an important indicator of a healthy work environment.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate changes in hospital nurse anxiety scores associated with exposure to workplace aromatherapy using a blend of essential oils.


The study was conducted on a 34-bed orthopedic surgical trauma unit at a Level II trauma center in southern California. Nurse anxiety was measured during a 2-week period before the intervention of aromatherapy, then during the following 2 weeks while the intervention was implemented on the nursing unit. Pre- and post-intervention differences in average hospital nurse anxiety scores were compared to investigate the effect of an essential oil aromatherapy blend administered using an electronic atomizing diffuser. Nurse anxiety was measured using the State Trait Anxiety Inventory Form Y (STAI Y-1), a 20-item questionnaire which measured an individual nurse's emotional state response to a stressful situation and emotional response to worry, nervousness, tension, and apprehension.


Study results failed to demonstrate occupational exposure to aromatherapy was associated with a decrease in hospital nurse anxiety. There was no significant difference between the average baseline anxiety score and anxiety score during the aromatherapy intervention.


The results of this study indicated hospital nurses working on an orthopedic surgical trauma unit reported low to moderate anxiety scores and did not experience significant reduction in anxiety when exposed to aromatherapy. Despite the lack of conclusive findings to support the anxiolytic effect of aromatherapy, investigators observed an overall positive attitude toward the use of use of aromatherapy on the nursing unit.

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