Aromatherapy Research Blog #2

Over the course of summer, Dr. Greenberg and I have met over Skype on numerous occasions to ponder the best methodology for us to execute our research. Currently, our discussions have been centered around collecting prior research studies and established measurement criteria that relate to our goals. I am completing a systematic review of the literature per our goals. Next, I will organize a chart that will enable us to have all of the research information in one place and highlight the important details. In doing so, this will allow us to use the best evidenced based practice and thus produce the most reliable research plan to submit to the IRB.  Dr. Greenberg and I are also working on our own individual assignments, such as completing the IRB application and putting together the systematic review, respectively. Once the IRB is completed, Dr. Greenberg and I can move forward with obtaining consent from participants as well as beginning to conduct the physical research.

Here is a summary of topics discussed at some of our meetings:

Meeting 1: The objective of this meeting was to work on completing the undergraduate research application. Dr. Greenberg and I will expand on Dr. Greenberg’s prior research studies utilizing aromatherapy and lavender inhalation and bring it into a medical population, such as in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I previously worked as a direct support professional with this population for 3 years, so I was able to reach out to some of the organizations that I have still maintained contact with (located on Staten Island) to see if they would allow us permission conduct the research at their sites.

Meeting 2: At this meeting, Dr. Greenberg and I conferred with Ms. Sarah Burns to find previous studies and other scholarly literature to help us establish a pre-and-post measure. We are still debating if we want to narrow our research and test only on one specific disability instead of across the general gamut. However, we discovered that often times Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptoms overlap with anxiety so therefore, it may not be appropriate to use measures that have been designed and normed with the general population.

Meeting 3: Fortunately, after speaking to the organizations where Dr. Greenberg and myself will possibly be conducting our research, two organizations were very supportive and enthusiastic to help us. Dr. Greenberg and I then debated on whether we wanted to include participants with varying disabilities (i.e./ Down Syndrome, Autism, Asperger’s, etc.) or limit it to only one specific population. This would help us to decide on the appropriate facility. We also worked together to answer some of the questions posed by some of the facilities such as: “How much space and how long will we need to observe; What incentives will be provided; Can this study be open to the organization in its entirety; What exactly is needed from the participants? (I.e. Would they need to only smell the lavender oil or would an anxious/behavioral situation need to be provoked in order to see a response?).

Meeting 4: Dr. Greenberg and I have decided that we want a sample commonality and will limit our research to individuals on the autism spectrum. Furthermore, we will have two groups which will be delineated by the level of functioning (i.e. Group A will consist of higher functioning individuals whereas group B will consist of relatively lower functioning individuals). We have begun to look for appropriate measurement tools to use in individuals on the Autism spectrum, and I will also begin to work on the systematic review now that we have narrowed down our research population. Once I have determined the best constructs to use, I will start my literature search with a general population (such as intellectual disabilities) and then narrow down to a specific population (such as autism).

Meeting 5: The objective of this meeting was to figure out the best way to gain entre into the facilities. I have appointments for next week to visit the facilities and speak with key staff members about the best methods for us to conduct the study and obtain the data collection. Once the IRB is completed, we also decided that it may be best to observe the individuals prior to starting the study so that my presence does not act as a ‘trigger’ for them once the study begins. We also set a deadline to have the systematic review and IRB completed by the third week of August.


Aromatherapy Research

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 are whether the use of lavender inhalation will have a notable influence in exonerating stress and restless behavior within a sample of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 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. I will be responsible for 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. To date, Dr. Greenberg and I are currently analyzing scales-tools-measures and deciding 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. My next step insofar in agency outreach is to converse with key staff to ascertain the behavioral measures already in use in their facility that are used to measure anxiety, restlessness, and stress.

Once this step is accomplished, we will visit the agencies in order to plan the most appropriate study and data collection.