Aromatherapy for Pain, Emotional Distress and Sleep Quality in Cancer Patients Receiving Hospice Care: A Meta-Analysis

Friday, 26 July 2013: 8:50 AM

Asphodel Yang, PhD, RN
College of Nursing, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan
Feng-Yi Lai, MSN, RN
Deparment of Nursing, Shu-Zen College of Medicine and Management, Kaoshiung, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to discuss the use of metaanalysis in nursing practice.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to discuss the effects of aromatherapy on cancer patients receiving hospice care

Individuals with cancer not only experience physiological discomforts but also psychological disturbances. Therefore, in addition to conventional medical therapies, complementary therapies are also widely accepted. Aromatherapy is now one of the mostly used therapies in palliative care unit.  A comprehensive systematic review was conducted to determine the effects of aromatherapy on (a) pain, (b) emotional distress and (c) sleeping quality in cancer patients receiving hospice care  Keywords such as aromatherapy, hospice care, pain, emotional distress and sleeping quality were used to search related literatures at databases including CINAHL, MEDLINE, The Cochrane Library, CEPS, GRB, PerioPath, Index to Taiwan Periodical Literature System, National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations in Taiwan, etc.  Additionally, we examined all reference lists of identified trials.

Following the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 8 trials met the inclusion criteria involving 328 patients in 3 one-group pre-posttest studies, 2 two-group pre-posttest studies and 3 randomized controlled trials.  Those included studies were evaluated independently using Cochrane Collaboration’s Tool for Assessing Risk of Bias and were subject to double data entry. The extracted data were analyzed using Comprehensive Meta-Analysis version 2.0 to evaluate the effects of aromatherapy. The results revealed that aromatherapy had moderate effect on improving the cancer-related pain; yet, no significant effects on emotional distress and sleeping quality.  The present study suggested that aromatherapy has moderate effect on relieving the pain of cancer patients who are accepting hospice care. On the other hand, only few trials have measure the effects of aromatherapy, and all were small and showed methodically weaknesses; thus, the evidence was not sufficient as a reliable basis for practical conclusions. Better quality trials are needed to address the current lack of evidence in this issue.  For further investigation, increasing sample size, establishing of standard treatment protocols, and reducing confounding factors should be considered.