The Effect of Aromatherapy on Insomnia and Other Common Symptoms Among Patients With Acute Leukemia

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Abstract

Purpose/Objectives:

To determine if the use of aromatherapy improves insomnia and other common symptoms in hospitalized patients with newly diagnosed acute leukemia.

Design:

A randomized, crossover, washout trial.

Setting:

An inpatient acute leukemia unit at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard L. Solove Research Institute of the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Sample:

50 patients who were newly diagnosed with acute leukemia and hospitalized to receive their initial four weeks of intensive induction chemotherapy.

Methods:

Patients were offered a choice of three scents to be used during the trial: lavender, peppermint, or chamomile. Each patient was randomized to receive either the chosen aromatherapy intervention or a placebo intervention during alternate weeks, with a washout period in between. Sleep quality and other common symptoms were measured.

Main Research Variables:

Aromatherapy, sleep, insomnia, pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, lack of appetite, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, and well-being.

Findings:

Most patients reported poor quality sleep at baseline, but aromatherapy had a statistically significant positive impact. Improvements were noted in tiredness, drowsiness, lack of appetite, depression, anxiety, and well-being because of aromatherapy.

Conclusions:

Aromatherapy is a viable intervention for improving insomnia and other symptoms commonly experienced by patients with acute leukemia.

Implications for Nursing:

Oncology nurses can employ aromatherapy safely and inexpensively, and with minimal training, as an effective tool in decreasing many symptoms that plague patients with leukemia. Patients can exercise a greater sense of control over their treatment environments through the use of aromatherapy.

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