Research: SODEN and co-workers,

Listed in Issue 103


SODEN and co-workers, Princess Alice Hospice, Esher, Surrey, UK,, have conducted a randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting.


Patients with cancer are using aromatherapy and massage increasingly, and there is good evidence that these therapies decrease anxiety in the short term. This study aimed to investigate more long-term effects.


42 patients were randomly allocated to receive weekly massages with lavender oil in a carrier oil, or weekly massage with the carrier oil only, or no intervention, for four weeks. Parameters measured before and after treatment were Pain VAS, Verran and Snyder-Halpern sleep scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression, and the Rotterdam Sy mptom Checklist.


No significant effects of massage were found in terms of pain, anxiety and quality of life. However sleep improved in both the aromatherapy and the massage groups. There were also significant reductions of depression in the massage group.


In this study, the use of essential oil did not make any difference, but it was shown that massage has a beneficial effect on the psychological wellbeing of cancer patients.


Soden K, Vincent K, Craske S, Lucas C, Ashley S. A randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting. Palliative Medicine 18 (2): 87-92, Mar 2004.


The duration of this study was inadequate to draw firm conclusions. It is hardly surprising that this short-term intervention didn't result in significant pain relief. That even with only four massages there were significant reductions in depression shows how powerful touch can be. These type of studies need to be replicated over a longer period.

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