Both lavender fleur oil and unscented oil aromatherapy reduce preoperative anxiety in breast surgery patients: a randomized trial

J Clin Anesth. 2016 Sep:33:243-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2016.02.032. Epub 2016 May 5.


Study objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether lavender fleur oil (LFO) aromatherapy would reduce anxiety when administered to women before undergoing breast surgery.

Design: This was a single-site, randomized study comparing the effect of LFO to unscented oil (UO).

Setting: The study was conducted in the preoperative holding area of the ambulatory surgery department of NYU Langone Medical Center.

Patients: Ninety three women, 18 years and older, scheduled for breast surgery. Women meeting inclusion/exclusion criteria were randomized to either LFO or UO aromatherapy and were blind to their assigned treatment.

Outcome measures: Subjects completed a Speilberger State Anxiety Inventory for Adults (STAI) before and after aromatherapy. Vital signs were recorded before and after aromatherapy.

Results: STAI-State questions were divided into positive and negative emotions for analysis. Before aromatherapy, there was no significant difference between groups by individual questions or overall average answer of either positive or negative questions. The use of both LFO and UO increased the positive STAI score totals, with the LFO group having a slightly, but statistically significant, greater increase. Both resulted in a statistically significant decrease in the negative score totals after treatment. There were no differences in vital signs between groups for either treatment. Following the conclusion of the trial LFO was analyzed and found to contain a very low content of the 2 major Lavandula angustifolia constituents.

Conclusions: Both LFO and UO aromatherapy treatments lowered anxiety before surgery despite no significant changes in vital signs. LFO treatment generated a slight but statistically significant increase in positive feelings compared with UO treatment. It is probable that the beneficial effect observed was due to both aromatherapy with LFO and a placebo effect related to the added attention given to the patients.

Keywords: Anxiety; Aromatherapy; Lavender; Preoperative.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Aromatherapy / methods*
  • Breast / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lavandula / chemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Preoperative Care / methods*


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • lavender oil