Optimizing Comfort with Aromatherapy in Wound and Ostomy Patients

Honey Lyn Lerias, BSN, RN, CWOCN, Patient Education, St John Hospital and Medical Center, Detroit, MI and Sherrie Ingles, RN, CWOCN, Patient Education, St John Macomb-Oakland Hospital, Detroit, MI
Optimizing Comfort with Aromatherapy in Wound and Ostomy Patients

Patients with wounds and new ostomy can be challenging because of the discomfort and anxiety that they are experiencing.  Pharmaceutical agents may bring them relief but they may not be effective in all cases.

A randomized study was made among 50 patients with wounds and new ostomy over a 6 week period with the use of aromatherapy to optimize comfort in conjunction with pharmaceutical agents.

Lavender, an essential oil that is used as a natural relaxation agent was utilized in this study to evaluate its effectiveness in pain management and relaxation. Lavender was administered through inhalation by placing 1-2 drops in a cotton ball and placing it at the patient’s bedside an hour prior to dressing change or ostomy care education.

The goal of the study is to evaluate if aromatherapy in conjunction with pain medication can be more effective in decreasing pain and anxiety or if it can be utilized in lieu of the pharmaceutical agents.

Outcome of the study did confirm that these patients would still require their scheduled pain medication and/ or antianxiety agents. 90% of the total patients surveyed still have the same pain score and anxiety level without their scheduled pain medication.  Altogether, using lavender as an aromatherapy agent can’t in itself minimize pain and anxiety in this specific patient population.  The same study did confirm that aromatherapy with lavender in conjunction with pharmaceuticals can decrease pain more and promote relaxation in 75% of the patient surveyed.

Promoting positive patient experience is our goal as a WOC Nurse and it is very good to know that there are resources that we can incorporate in our practice such as aromatherapy to achieve this outcome.