Cancer patients experiences and evaluations of aromatherapy massage in palliative care

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Many patients suffering from cancer make use of complementary therapies, with aromatherapy being a popular choice.Quantitative studies, using questionnaire data, have shown that aromatherapy may reduce psychological distress and enhance symptom control in cancer patients. However, little is known about the personal meanings patients associate with the therapy. This study explored the patients’ experiences of aromatherapy using of a focus group interview. Eight themes emerged from the analysis, six of which have been acknowledged to some extent by previous authors: de-stressing effects of aromatherapy, the counselling role of the aromatherapist, aromatherapy as a reward, patient empowerment, communication through touch, and negativeaspects of the service. Two apparently new themes emerged concerned with security of context (where the aromatherapy took place) and preconceived perceptions of the value of aromatherapy as a treatment for cancer patients. The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to the perceived role of counselling, collaborative practice and training in complementary therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-504
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Nov 2002


  • aromatherapy
  • cancer
  • palliative care
  • patient experiences
  • qualitative


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