The survey - which included measuring occupational stress factors such as pressure of responsibility, quality concerns, role conflict, job satisfaction and self esteem - was carried out before and after each 12-week period.
It revealed that occupational stress levels were consistent between the summer and winter trials.
Staff who took part in the study had an average age of 38 and had spent just over seven years working in the emergency department. 80 per cent were female and 60 per cent worked full time. Comparisons with national statistics showed that the sample had more male and full-time staff than national averages.
Massages were provided by a qualified therapist who sprayed aromatherapy mist above the heads of participants and then massaged their shoulders, mid back, neck, scalp forehead and temples, while they listened to relaxing music on headphones.
Participants, who were seated in a quiet room, were able to choose the essential oil used, from rose, lavender, lime or ocean breeze a combination of lavender, ylang ylang, bergamot and patchouli.
Sixteen massages were carried out over a two-day work period each week, with the names of all staff working those days put into an envelope and selected at random.
There is scope for a lot more research into this area concludes Dr Cooke.
We would be interested to see if different types of alternative therapy produced different results and whether factors such as age, gender and health status had any effect on the outcome.
But what is clear from this study is that providing aromatherapy massage had an immediate and dramatic effect on staff who traditionally suffer high anxiety levels because of the nature of their work.
|Contact: Annette Whibley|
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.