A pilot study addressing the effect of aromatherapy massage on mood, anxiety and relaxation in adult mental health

Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2003 May;9(2):90-7. doi: 10.1016/S1353-6117(02)00104-X.


This study was carried out with eight subjects specifically referred for aromatherapy; each received a standardised aromatherapy massage weekly for 6 weeks. The subjects' levels of anxiety and depression were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) Scale prior to the first massage and after the final massage. The subjects' levels of mood, anxiety and relaxation were recorded using a visual analogue before and after each massage and then again 6 weeks after the last massage. Comparison was made between the HAD Scale results for each client and also the visual analogue scale results for before and after massage and also first massage and 6 weeks postmassage for the sample group. Improvements were shown in six out of eight subjects' HAD Scale results. Improvements were also shown in all areas when comparing the visual analogue scale results. The study was carried out over an 8-month period. To date there have been few studies addressing the effect of aromatherapy massage on mood, anxiety and relaxation (Therapist 9 (1996) 38). It is acknowledged that there may be a number of reasons for this such as factors related to obtaining a sample group, informed consent, the interaction of current medication regimes and so forth. It is acknowledged that whilst this is a small pilot study a number of methodological issues are raised concerning research into the use of aromatherapy in this clinical field. By reporting on this work, it is hoped that this paper will generate reflection, discussion and debate so forwarding the knowledge base in this discipline.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Anxiety / nursing*
  • Aromatherapy / nursing*
  • Aromatherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage* / methods
  • Massage* / nursing
  • Mental Disorders / nursing*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychotic Disorders / nursing
  • Relaxation*
  • Schizophrenia / nursing
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome