Evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing levels of anxiety in palliative care patients: results of a pilot study

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2006 May;12(2):148-55. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2005.11.003. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


Results of the pilot study of the four counties randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of aromatherapy massage with 1% Santalum album (Sandalwood) (group A) when compared with massage with Sweet Almond Carrier oil, (group B) or Sandalwood oil via an aromastone (group C), in reducing levels of anxiety in palliative care. The aims of the pilot study were to evaluate the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing anxiety in patients receiving palliative care in four counties. The primary end points of the research were to report a statistically significant difference in anxiety scores between experimental group (B) and comparison groups (A and C) and to influence the integration of aromatherapy into all aspects of palliative care. The limited data of the pilot study (N=34) tested the logistics of the research, particularly the 25% attrition rate and the robustness of the data collection tools. The results were not substantial enough to generate coherent statistics. Therefore no assumptions could be drawn from these results due to the inconsistencies that were bound to occur in such a small sample. However, the results do seem to support the notion that Sandalwood oil is effective in reducing anxiety.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Aromatherapy / methods*
  • Aromatherapy / psychology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Data Collection / standards
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Sesquiterpenes / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Plant Oils
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • almond oil
  • sandalwood oil