The Effect of Aromatherapy in the Management of Cancer-Related Pain at the End of Life: A Pilot Study

Grace Cullen

Lynn Neely

Maureen R. McDonald

Kelly M. Cousino

Carrie Drobek

Melissa A. Przywara

aromatherapy, cancer, pain, essential oils, end of life, pain management
CJON 2023, 27(4), 404-410. DOI: 10.1188/23.CJON.404-410

Background: The use of clinical aromatherapy for managing pain has been studied in surgical patients and in women during childbirth. However, there are limited data on the use of aromatherapy for alleviating cancer-related pain, particularly at the end of life.

Objectives: This pilot study identifies the pre- and postimplementation effects of aromatherapy on pain level, pain perception, and the use of oral morphine equivalent among patients with cancer at the end of life.

Methods: A survey was conducted to assess participant pain levels preimplementation of aromatherapy. Participants were then asked to rate their pain and describe how they felt 15 minutes postimplementation of aromatherapy. A chart review comparing oral morphine equivalent use pre- and postimplementation of aromatherapy was also performed.

Findings: Postimplementation of aromatherapy, mean pain scores and 24-hour oral morphine equivalent use decreased. Participants also described an improved pain experience and found aromatherapy to be soothing.

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