There is much empirical evidence that exists to support the use of aromatherapy as an accompanying treatment for therapeutic outcomes. In our research study, “Mitigating stress with aromatherapy in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Dr. Greenberg and I will be researching the effects of the use of lavender inhalation amongst individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as amongst their caregivers. We will be measuring specifically whether lavender inhalation will have a significant influence in exonerating stress and restless behavior within these two samples. Our study will be carried out in two phases: Phase I will focus solely on the support staff, and Phase II will focus on the individuals with intellectual disabilities. It was necessary to split our study into two separate groups as one group deals with a vulnerable population and the other does not.
Anxiety and anxiety-related disorders are often concomitant with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The main goals of the study include:
- To provide this population with a non-pharmacological measure to help meliorate anxiety and stress
- To provide various disciplines caring for this population with a proactive-instead of reactive-intervention to de-escalate restlessness before a behavioral mediation is necessary
Nursing research and Evidence-based practice (EBP) allows nurses to use scientifically gained evidence for delivering quality health care to a specific population. This research project will help me practice research skills in preparation for advanced practice nursing. My responsibilities thus far have entailed conducting the literature review for best evidence on lavender and stress reduction with individuals (adults) with intellectual disability and writing a systematic review, finding the appropriate measurement scales on stress for the sample, reviewing the IRB application, preparing the study materials, and collecting and analyzing data. Dr. Greenberg and I have analyzed numerous scales-tools-measures and decided on their appropriateness for our sample. When conducting the study, we may use both quantitative and qualitative measures.
Since I have both experience as an RN in working with individuals with intellectual disabilities and contacts in several agencies, I have also explored the feasibility of conducting the study in three agencies, all serving the population of interest. In terms of agency outreach, I have been conversing with key staff to ascertain the behavioral measures already in use that are used to measure anxiety, restlessness, and stress. After exploring one of the facilities and meeting with the Principle and guidance counselor of the school, Dr. Greenberg and I had initially determined that we wanted to conduct our study there. However, due to the hurdles we would have to jump and the length of time it would take to get the IRB approved by the NYCDOE, we quickly realized that this was not a feasible option and instead will be conducting our study in a local group home. Ideally, this study will further enhance our understanding of holistic therapies and their role in managing stress and anxiety.