Aims and objectives: This research aimed to evaluate the use of aromatherapy massage and music as an intervention to cope with the occupational stress and anxiety that emergency department staff experience. The study also aimed to compare any differences in results between a summer and winter 12-week massage plan.
Background: Emergency nurses are subjected to significant stressors during their work and it is known that workloads and patient demands influence the role stress has on nurses. The perception that winter months are busier for emergency departments has long been held and there is some evidence that people with cardiac and respiratory dysfunction do present more frequently in the winter months. Massage has been found to decrease staff anxiety.
Design: The study used a one-group pre-test, post-test quasi-experimental design with random assignment.
Method: Staff occupational stress was assessed pre- and post- 12 weeks of aromatherapy massage with music and anxiety was measured pre and post each massage session. Sick leave was also measured. Comparisons of summer and winter data were undertaken.
Results: A total of 365 massages were given over two 12-week periods, one during summer and the other during winter. Analysis identified that aromatherapy massage with music significantly reduced anxiety for both seasonal periods. Premassage anxiety was significantly higher in winter than summer. No differences in sick leave and workload were found. There was no difference in the occupational stress levels of nurses following the two 12-week periods of massage.
Conclusion: Emergency nurses were significantly more anxious in winter than summer but this cannot be attributed to increased sick leave or workloads. Aromatherapy massage with music significantly reduced emergency nurses' anxiety.
Relevance to clinical practice: High levels of anxiety and stress can be detrimental to the physical and emotional health of emergency nurses and the provision of a support mechanism such as on-site massage as an effective strategy should be considered.