Applying a quality use of medicines framework to using essential oils in nursing practice

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2005 Aug;11(3):172-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2005.02.004.


Nurses are increasingly incorporating complementary therapies into their practices. Aromatherapy is one of the most popular therapies. The basis of aromatherapy is essential oils, which are chemically active substances with a long history of safe traditional use and a growing evidence base to support their use in nursing care. In Australia, essential oils are classified and regulated under the same policies as conventional medicines such as the National Medicines Policy and the Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) framework applies. QUM is a framework for selecting and using medicines safely and effectively if medicines are indicated. The key elements of QUM are a systems-based approach to using medicines based on relevant evidence, partnerships, and informed client consent. Clients are placed at the centre of a QUM medication management process, which is consistent with holistic care. Applying a QUM approach to essential oil use, Quality Use of Essential Oils (QUEO), involves developing effective systems for managing essential oils from an holistic perspective that includes structured assessment and diagnostic processes to enable effective essential oil prescribing and outcome monitoring. In a QUEO approach, essential oils are integrated into the client's overall medication regimen and care plan rather than being used as 'add-ons'. Adopting QUEO is consistent with the current national focus on the quality use of therapeutic substances, increases the profile of aromatherapy in nursing care and provides important information to guide future aromatherapy practices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aromatherapy / nursing*
  • Aromatherapy / standards*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Documentation / methods
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Humans
  • Oils, Volatile / standards
  • Organizational Policy
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • Risk Management / methods


  • Oils, Volatile