A Randomized Controlled Trial Provides Evidence to Support Aromatherapy to Minimize Anxiety in Women Undergoing Breast Biopsy

Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2017 Oct;14(5):394-402. doi: 10.1111/wvn.12229. Epub 2017 Apr 10.


Background: Aromatherapy has been used to reduce anxiety in a variety of settings, but usefulness associated with breast biopsies has not been documented.

Aims: This study was conducted in women undergoing image-guided breast biopsy. We explored the use of two different aromatherapy scents, compared to placebo, aimed at reducing anxiety with the intent of generating new knowledge.

Methods: This was a randomized, placebo-controlled study of two different types of external aromatherapy tabs (lavender-sandalwood and orange-peppermint) compared with a matched placebo-control delivery system. Anxiety was self-reported before and after undergoing a breast biopsy using the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory Scale.

Results and findings: Eighty-seven women participated in this study. There was a statistically significant reduction in self-reported anxiety with the use of the lavender-sandalwood aromatherapy tab compared with the placebo group (p = .032). Aromatherapy tabs reduced anxiety during image-guided breast biopsy.

Linking evidence to action: The completion of the biopsy provided some relief from anxiety in all groups. The use of aromatherapy tabs offers an evidence-based nursing intervention to improve adaptation and reduce anxiety for women undergoing breast biopsy. Lavender-sandalwood aromatherapy reduced anxiety and promoted adaptation more than orange-peppermint aromatherapy or placebo.

Keywords: Roy adaptation model; anxiety; aromatherapy; breast core biopsies; placebo; randomized.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Aromatherapy / methods
  • Aromatherapy / standards*
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Biopsy / psychology*
  • Breast / pathology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics / instrumentation
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Statistics, Nonparametric