O’Flaherty LA, van Dijk M, Albertyn R, Millar A, Rode H
This observational pilot study investigated effects of aromatherapy massage in paediatric burn patients.
The setting was a 17 beds level I burn unit in Cape Town, South Africa. Between January and October 2009 heart rates and respiratory rates of patients who underwent aromatherapy massage sessions were read before and after the sessions. Primary outcomes were decline in heart rates and respiratory rates, a sign of relaxation. Behavioural responses (sleep/awake state, facial expression, body posture) were documented as secondary outcomes.
A convenience sample of 71 paediatric burn patients (median age 3 years) underwent a total of 126 massage sessions. Mean heart rate decreased significantly from 118 (SD 20) to 109 (SD 21), t=9.8, p<0.001. Mean respiratory rate decreased significantly from 34 (SD 8) to 30 (SD 8), t=10.2, p<0.001. Most massage sessions (92.8%) elicited positive behaviour to the massage, e.g. the child fell asleep, calmed or asked to continue. Nine patients (7.2%) with a median age of 15 months who underwent a single massage session did not show positive behaviour but cried, wriggled or were distressed.
Aromatherapy massage seems to be a helpful nonpharmacological approach to reduce hospitalized paediatric burn patients’ distress. Future studies with better research designs and validated outcome measures should confirm our findings.
O’Flaherty LA, van Dijk M, Albertyn R, et al. Aromatherapy massage seems to enhance relaxation in children with burns: an observational pilot study. Burns. 2012;38(6):840-845.