Introduction: Anxiety is the most common psychological response of women to labor. The aim of the present systematic review was to evaluate and summarize the available clinical evidence on the anxiolytic effects of aromatherapy during the first stage of labor. Methods: Electronic databases including: Cochrane Library, MEDLINE/ PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, SID, Iran Doc, ProQuest, and Google Scholar were searched up to Sep10, 2017 with the keywords of 'aroma*', 'aromatherapy', 'essential oil', 'anxiety', and ' labor '. The risk of bias in the included studies was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration's 'Risk of bias' tool. The results were reported qualitatively. Results: A total of 14 published papers and 2 unpublished papers were retrieved which met the inclusion criteria. The studies were conducted in Iran, Egypt, Korea, and Italy. Essential oils had been used were lavender in 5 articles, rose, clary sage, geranium and frankincense in 3 articles, chamomile, bitter orange, sweet orange and peppermint in 2 articles, mandarin orange, jasmine and clove in 1 article. A majority of the studies suggested a positive effect of aromatherapy in reducing women's anxiety during the first stage of labor. Conclusion: It is recommended that aromatherapy could be applied as a complementary therapy for reducing anxiety during the first stage of labor, but methodologically rigorous studies should be conducted in this area.
Keywords: Anxiety; Aromatherapy; Clinical trial; Systematic review.