Does aromatherapy massage benefit patients with cancer attending a specialist palliative care day centre?


Abstract:  A randomised controlled pilot study was carried out to examine the effects of adjunctive aromatherapy massage on mood, quality of life and physical symptoms in patients with cancer attending a specialist unit. Participants were randomised to conventional day care alone or day care plus weekly aromatherapy massage using a standardised blend of oils for four weeks. At baseline and at weekly intervals, patients rated their mood, quality of life and the intensity and bother of two symptoms most important to them. Forty-six patients were recruited to the study. Due to a large number of withdrawals, only 11 of 23 (48%) patients in the aromatherapy group and 18 of 23 (78%) in the control group completed all four weeks. Mood, physical symptoms and quality of life improved in both groups. There was no statistically significant difference between groups in any of the outcome measures. Despite a lack of measurable benefit, all patients were satisfied with the aromatherapy and wished to continue. Whilst this pilot study has shown that a randomised controlled trial of complementary therapy is feasible, it has also identified several areas that would require further consideration when designing future studies, e.g., the recruitment and retention of appropriate numbers of patients and the outcome measures used.


Palliative Medicine


Vol. 18, No. 4, 287-290 (2004)

Resource Type:

Journal Article


Wilcock, A. and Manderson, C et al