The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of aromatherapy to reduce anxiety prior to a scheduled colonoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy. A controlled, prospective study was done on a convenience sample of 118 patients. The “state” component of the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was used to evaluate patients' anxiety levels pre- and postaromatherapy. The control group was given an inert oil (placebo) for inhalation, and the experimental group was given the essential oil, lavender, for inhalation.
The STAI state anxiety raw score revealed that patients were at the 99th (women) and 96th (men) percentiles for anxiety. The intervention group and the control group had similar levels of state anxiety prior to the beginning of the study (t = .47, p = .64). There was no difference in state anxiety levels between pre- and postplacebo inhalation in the control group (t = .48, p = .63). There was no statistical difference in state anxiety levels between pre- and postlavender inhalation in the experimental group (t = .73, p = .47). Although this study did not show aromatherapy to be effective based on statistical analysis, patients did generally report the lavender scent to be pleasant. Lavender is an inexpensive and popular technique for relaxation that can be offered to patients as an opportunity to promote preprocedural stress reduction in a hospital setting.