Third Blog Post: Aromatherapy Research Progress

Use of aromatherapy in freshman college students to decrease test anxiety: A random blinded intervention-placebo study

The experimental portion of this study has ended. Dr. Greenberg and I are now focusing on collecting and analyzing the results of our pre experiment and post-experiment surveys; Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Westside Test Anxiety Scale, and Spielberg State Trait Anxiety inventory.

Dr. Greenberg and I encountered a multitude of challenges in this study;

  1. We had a large, potential sample size of over 400 freshman students; however, it proved to be an impossible task to recruit many of the students. I sent numerous emails reaching out to the students. University 101 professors posted the consent form for the study to their course’s Blackboard for ease of access for the students. We even offered gift card incentives! We ended with a total sample size of 27 subjects. Due to the difficulty we faced with recruitment, we learned quickly that working with this group of students was going to be a challenge.
  2. Of the 27 participants, there was huge noncompliance with completing the surveys. Only 4 subjects completed all of the surveys. I even sent mass texts and emails reminding and encouraging the participants to complete the surveys.
  3. Only 11 subjects actually picked up their inhalers.
  4. Because of this, our end sample size for the control and intervention groups was limited.

Conversely, despite the challenges faced, we found that utilizing the lavender inhaler a minimum of 3 times per week, in the fall semester, prior to midterm examinations and through final examinations yielded as an effective anxiolytic and improved the subject’s quality of sleep. Specific statistical data is still currently being analyzed and will be discussed in depth on the UG research day that Provost is holding. 

I will be graduating this May with a strongly developed skill in evidence-based practice research thanks to Leinhard School of Nursing. The program is strongly invested in teaching nursing students the essentiality of using current, best evidence when making decisions about patient care and utilizing critically appraised, scientifically proven evidence for delivering quality health care. I learned that this is one of my major strengths, and I have become intent on conducting my own research later in my nursing career. When Dr. Greenberg offered me this opportunity to be involved in her research, I was incredibly enthusiastic that she not only recognized my EBP aptitude, but that this opportunity would provide me a foundation on conducting research that I can one day achieve myself. I have become confident in my ability to interpret research data through employing valid statistical tests. Dr. Greenberg and I will be presenting our work on aromatherapy at the Eastern Nursing Research Society’s annual scientific session in Pittsburgh, PA next month. This accomplishment will open a door of opportunities for my career path that I have only begun.


Blog 2: Aromatherapy

Since the last blog post, Dr. Greenberg and I have focused our attention towards ensuring our freshman student participants have completed the 4 surveys; State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Westside Aromatherapy Survey, Aromatherapy Demographic/Scales, and Sleep Quality Assessment (PSQI). Now that the students have completed the surveys we are in the process of providing them the aromatherapy inhalers for them to utilize. This is a randomized – blind trial. The students do not know if they have the control group or not. They also do not know what 2 scented oils we have decided to use. We hope to see reduction in stress and anxiety, especially since it’s time for finals! We will continue communicating with the students to follow up on the progress of this study.

Conversely, our primary focus is going to be analyzing the statistics of the responses for each survey. Here is some of our participant demographic information.


  • Female: 83.33%
  • Male: 16.67%



  • 17 years old: 4.17% (with parental consent)
  • 18 years old: 87.5%
  • 19 years old: 8.33%

Marital Status:

  • Single: 95.83%
  • Relationship: 4.17%

Which school at Pace they attend;

  • College of Health Professions: 50%
  • Dyson College of Arts and Science: 41.67%
  • Lubin School of Business: 4.17%
  • Seidenberg School of CSIS: 4.17%


Participant Majors:

  • Psychology: 25%
  • Business: 4.17%
  • Nursing: 54.17%
  • Computer Science: 4.17%
  • Communications: 4.17%
  • Environmental Science: 4.17%
  • Criminal Justice: 4.17%


Modalities used to aid in anxiety control;

Massage use: 9 participants answered for this, of those 9 participants;

  • Weekly: 33.33%
  • Monthly: 66.67%

Energy Balance (Reiki, Polarity) use: 4 participants answered for this, of those 4 participants;

  • Weekly: 25%
  • Monthly: 75%

Chiropractic use: 4 participants answered for this, of those 4 participants;

  • Monthly: 100%

Relaxation, Medication, or Imagery use: 13 participants answered for this, of those 13 participants;

  • Daily: 30.77%
  • Weekly: 15.38%
  • Monthly: 53.85%

TENS use: 4 participants answered for this, of those 4 participants;

  • Monthly: 4%

Exercise use: 17 participants answered for this, of those 17 participants:

  • Weekly: 17.65%
  • Weekly: 70.59%
  • Monthly: 11.76%

Specific answers given by participants for exercise:

  1. Fencing, going to the gym
  2. I go for walks daily. It increases my heart rate and I feel better afterwards!
  3. I go to the gym 3-4 times a week because it makes me feel good to be in shape.
  4. Treadmill and weightlifting
  5. I dance as a dance instructor for 4 hours 3-4 times a week.
  6. I do a routine workout at the gym or a run outdoors.
  7. I go to the gym, run on the treadmill, ride the bike, and work on my abs.
  8. Go to the gym everyday plays basketball.
  9. I got to the gym at least once a week and do cardio for 45 minutes.
  10. I dance two to three times a week. I also practice yoga about one time a week.
  11. Going to the gym and doing a set workout 3-4 days a week.
  12. Go to the gym and do cardio and weight lifting.
  13. Go to the gym regularly, or when I can. At least one or two times a week.
  14. I go to the gym daily and do cardio as well as ab/core workouts.

Aromatherapy use: 7 participants answered for this, of those 7 participants:

  • Weekly: 28.57%
  • Monthly: 71.43%

Specific answers given by participants for aromatherapy use:

  1. Burning candles
  2. I have an aromatherapy doll filled with incense.

Answers provided by participants for methods to aid in anxiety control that are not listed above:

  1. Play steel drum
  2. Taking a nap
  3. I just listen to music/play video games and relax.
  4. I sleep to ease my anxiety, run or color.
  5. I listen to relaxing music to help calm me down or take a nap.
  6. I recently started attending therapy sessions
  7. Take naps

Continue reading “Blog 2: Aromatherapy”

Blog #1: Use of Aromatherapy

Blog Post #1

Hello everybody! My name is Danielle Bard and I am a senior nursing student here at Pace University. I am currently working with Dr. Greenberg in the continuation of her aromatherapy project for the Undergraduate Research Program. We will be investigating the effectiveness in using lavender oil to decrease anxiety and stress as well as improve sleep in freshman university 101 students.

Study Title:  Use of aromatherapy in Pleasantville freshman students to decrease test anxiety.


  • Pleasantville campus freshman university 101 students.
  • Must be over the age of 18.
  • Must be able to read and understand English.
  • No cognitive impairments or psychiatric impairments, including but not limited to severe depression or severe anxiety.
  • No lung conditions such as asthma, allergies to fragrances, rhinitis, or an upper respiratory tract infection.
  • No allergies to essential oils.
  • Must not be pregnant.

For this randomized study, the participants will be assigned to a control or intervention group and asked to inhale the oil three times a week. The oil will be contained in a small inhaler, which takes approximately 5 seconds to administer to self. Before and after the completion of the study, the participants will need to complete The Westside test anxiety scale, the Pittsburgh sleep inventory, and the Spielberger STAI.

I am incredibly excited to be apart of this research, as a health profession, I believe holistic interventions such as aromatherapy have an unlimited amount of potential in the medical field and aiding people in various ways. I look forward to seeing the students benefit from this experiment. I was a freshman at one point and vividly remember the anxiety and stress of moving to another state to a school where I knew nobody and had absolutely no idea how college even worked.

So far this semester Dr. Greenberg and I have met on multiple occasions to discuss how we plan to move forward with this research. I have the meetings briefly described below to demonstrate our process.

September 14, 2016: Today’s objective was to research and decide on a control essential – oil. Our requirements include an oil that has a mild scent and no effects on the central nervous system. After much research done, we narrowed down the options to Eucalyptus globulus or Eucalyptus radiate. Currently pending a shipment of a sample size for each to make our final decision.

September 21, 2016: Today’s objective was to review the consent forms and discuss our next steps in implementing the trial. Will follow up at the library and set up an area there to be available for students to come with questions, concerns, paperwork, ect. Still pending the samples.

September 22, 2016: Today was the meeting with all the undergraduate research program faculty and staff members. We introduced ourselves and all briefly discussed our projects we will be conducting. During this meeting we were all educated on the resources Pace’s library and website have for us to complete our research effectively. Pending IRB revision form to be approved.

October 5, 2016: Today we decided on using Eucalyptus Radiata as our control oil! Will be sending out emails to the entire freshman class at Pleasantville campus encouraging them to participate. The deadline for participants to send their consent form in is October 17. In the meanwhile, we will be putting the inhalers together and reminding students to participate.

October 14, 2016: Subject sign up ends on 10/17 so we hope to have a complete sample by this upcoming Tuesday. At that point, I will randomly assign the subjects to control/intervention groups as well as email the individuals instructions on completing out initial surveys on Qualtrics. Submitted abstract to ENRS which will be used to represent Pace LSN in the category of undergraduate research at the April 2017 Scientific sessions.