Influence of aromatherapy on medication administration to residential-care residents with dementia and behavioral challenges

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2002 May-Jun;17(3):169-74. doi: 10.1177/153331750201700305.


Thirteen older persons (seven men and six women) in residential care participated as subjects in this study. All participants had histories of confusion due to dementia and were identified by staff as being consistently resistant to medication administration as indicated by vocal outbursts, moving away, or physical combativeness. Subjects were exposed to four aroma interventions during medication administration: 1) lavender vera (lavendula officinalis); 2) sweet orange (citrus aurantium); 3) tea tree (malaleuca alternifolia); and 4) no aroma (control). All medication administrations were videotaped for later data collection. Observers were trained to record frequency and duration of resistive behaviors during medication administration in allfour interventions for each subject. Reliability between two observers was extremely high. Results showed no statistically significant differences across all aroma conditions for either resistive behavior or duration of administration. Also, there were no statistically significant differences based on gender. This study indicates that aromatherapy does not reduce combative, resistive behaviors in individuals with dementia. Research with a larger sample in future studies may yield other results.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / nursing*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Aromatherapy*
  • Arousal
  • Drug Therapy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Nursing Homes
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Social Behavior Disorders / nursing*
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology