Objective: To determine whether aromatherapy with lavender oil is effective in the treatment of agitated behaviour in patients with severe dementia.
Design: A placebo controlled trial with blinded observer rater.
Setting: A long-stay psychogeriatric ward.
Patients: Fifteen patients meeting ICD-10 diagnostic criteria for severe dementia and suffering from agitated behaviour defined as a minimum score of three points on the Pittsburgh Agitation Scale (PAS).
Intervention: A 2% lavender oil aromatherapy stream was administered on the ward for a two hour period alternated with placebo (water) every other day for a total of ten treatment sessions.
Assessments: For each subject 10 total PAS scores were obtained. Five during treatment and five during placebo periods.
Results: Nine patients (60%) showed an improvement, five (33%) showed no change and one patient (7%) showed a worsening of agitated behaviour during aromatherapy compared with placebo. A comparison of the group median PAS scores during aromatherapy showed a significant improvement in agitated behaviour during aromatherapy compared with placebo (median PAS scores 3 c.f. 4; Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks test p = 0.016 (one-tailed)).
Conclusions: Lavender oil administered in an aroma stream shows modest efficacy in the treatment of agitated behaviour in patients with severe dementia.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.