Offering Aromatherapy as an Alternative to Opioids May Increase Patient and Staff Satisfaction


Years ago, it was often said that “no one is untouched by cancer."  In the current day, it seems, it is now “no one is untouched by opioid addiction." 

We all know of someone who may have an addiction or has lost their life to opioid abuse.  If you don’t know of someone affected by the opioid epidemic, you probably do know that person…. you just may not be aware of their addiction.

With our nation in the grip of this epidemic, our awareness is heightened of the danger that opioids present, whether prescribed by the medical community or obtained on the streets.

As a result, many providers and patients are looking for alternatives to address pain instead of risking addiction. And, even if prescription opioids are necessary, it is becoming a best practice for providers to offer something to use in conjunction with them to help manage pain and reduce opioid intake.

Aromatherapy as a non-pharmacological approach to address pain

One way to offer non-pharmacological pain management is the use of aromatherapy.   

The research article, "The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis" reviewed and analyzed 42 qualitative and 12 quantitative pain studies in many areas such as chronic neck and back pain, knee pain, labor and delivery, post-cesarean section pain, post-operative pain, and the list goes on.

Their conclusion found a significant positive effect of aromatherapy reducing pain. They also noted it is a safe way to manage pain since there were no reports of adverse effects in addition to it being cost-effective.

A quality improvement project conducted by Touro University nursing student Daralynn Emge, determined that both patient and staff satisfaction increased using aromatherapy for pain management. 

The project took place on a 43 bed, adult acute care unit (ACU) at a community hospital in Vacaville, California. The project design measured weekly satisfaction scores six weeks prior and six weeks during the aromatherapy intervention period. 

The purpose of the project was to pilot aromatherapy as an added intervention for pain and to increase nurses' conversations with their patients about pain. Daralynn used Elequil aromatabs® aromatherapy designed for the clinical setting during the aromatherapy intervention period.

Aromatherapy for pain helped to increase patient satisfaction

Patients that accepted aromatherapy for the research project shared their positive feedback and how it helped with pain. 

One patient reported, “This really helps with my pain when I have to be moved. I focus on my breathing and it makes being turned more tolerable and helps me get through it.” 

Another patient reported, “The aromatherapy helps me feel more comfortable. I didn’t realize how long I went without requiring my next dose of pain medication.” 

One doctor requested that lavender aromatherapy be given to a patient suffering from pain and anxiety before going for an MRI.  

Offering aromatherapy empowered nurses and increased staff satisfaction

Nursing staff that participated in the research project also reported increased satisfaction in having access to an alternative intervention for pain.

One supervisor shared that it empowers nurses to give something to the patient right away to help with their pain and it helps the patient feel heard as well as cared for.

This supervisor is not the only one to observe this, The article, "Empowering Staff Nurses through Unit-Level Shared Governance: The Nurse Executive’s Role to Success," mentions that by allowing front-line nurses to be involved in decision making, they feel more empowered which results in improved nursing and patient satisfaction, and increased retention of staff.

Aromatherapy as an adjunct, supports Joint Commission Pain Management Standards  

The use of aromatherapy as a non-pharmacological approach to help with pain management supports the Joint Commission Pain Management Standards mandating a non-pharmacological approach to pain needs to be offered to patients to stay accredited. 

When a patient is more relaxed, pain can decrease. Elequil aromatabs® is an easy, low-cost non-pharmacological solution that can promote relaxation and increase patient satisfaction.

Beekley Medical offers assessment tools to measure pain, anxiousness, and patient satisfaction when using Elequil aromatabs®. Email to request request samples and/or the assessment tool kit.

Melissa Vibberts

Melissa Vibberts

Director of Brand Management

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