The effect of gender and ethnicity on children’s attitudes and preferences for essential oils: a pilot study

Fitzgerald M, Culbert T, Finkelstein M, Green M, Johnson A, Chen S
Explore (New York, N.Y.), 2007


ABSTRACT:

CONTEXT:
Aromatherapy is frequently recommended for children but children’s preferences for specific essential oils are not well documented.

OBJECTIVE:
To measure preferences of school aged children for essential oils based on gender and ethnicity.

DESIGN:
Descriptive study measuring children’s responses to and preferences for selected essential oils.

SETTING:
Pediatric integrative medicine clinic in a Midwestern children’s hospital.

PARTICIPANTS:
Healthy school-age children of Latino (N = 39) and non-Latino Caucasian (NLC) (N = 48) ethnicity, 41.7% of the NLC group and 59.0% of the Latino Group were males.

INTERVENTION:
Participants smelled single essential oils, answered three forced choice questions and one open ended question, order of exposure was varied.

OUTCOME MEASURES:
Participants evaluated each scent’s effect on mood and energy, stated their preferences, indicated if scents evoked particular thoughts and selected a favorite essential oil.

RESULTS:
Females were more likely to feel happy when smelling sweet orange (p = .043). Female Latinos were more likely than NLC females to find sweet orange calming (56.2% vs. 18.5%). Male Latinos were more likely (65.2%) to describe peppermint as “energetic” than male NLC (30%). Children chose an essential oil that they rated as “making them feel happy” (72.6%) and/or as “liking the most” (64.3%). Other results that approached statistical significance were: females felt more energetic with spearmint (p = .055). Latinos preferred spearmint over NLC (p = .075), and all males felt more energetic when smelling ginger (p = .091). Ginger and lavender were the least preferred. Results indicate that children have specific essential oil scent preferences. There is trend toward differences based on gender and ethnicity.

CITATION:

Fitzgerald M, Culbert T, Finkelstein M, et al. The effect of gender and ethnicity on children’s attitudes and preferences for essential oils: a pilot study. Explore (NY). 2007;3(4):378-385.


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