Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies


Objective: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not “Does the Use of Aromatherapy Massage Reduce Agitation in Elderly Patients with Dementia?”

Study Design: A systematic review of two randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and one cohort study published between 2010 and 2020.

Data Sources: All studies were discovered using PubMed. The articles were published in English in peer-reviewed journals and selected based on relevance to the clinical question.

Outcome Measured: The outcome measured was a reduction in agitation symptoms. Outcomes were measured through the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI). A similar scale was used among all articles, with minimal differences. In Yang et al., a Chinese version of CMAI was used. Fu et al. utilized a short form of CMAI. Lastly, Yoshiyama et al. used the original CMAI. Traditionally scored out of 203 points, comprised of 29 items rated on a 7-point Likert scale.

Results: In the cohort study by Yang et al., aromatherapy led to a reduction in agitation symptoms compared to the other nonpharmacologic intervention (P<0.001), indicated by a mean standard deviation change of 6.3. In the RCT crossover study by Yoshiyama et al., there was no significant change before versus after the trial indicated by a p-value of .75 in CMAI subsection ‘complaining’, and p-value of .5 in CMAI subsection ‘repetitious mannerisms’. In RCT led by Fu et al., subscales of the CMAI showed some reduction in agitation, however, was not statistically significant.

Conclusion: All three studies in this review demonstrated that while there may be benefit to the addition of aromatherapy massage in the treatment plan for certain elderly individuals with dementia, there was no strong statistical evidence to conclude a reduction in agitation symptoms with the use of aromatherapy massage compared to placebo. However, when compared to other nonpharmacologic intervention there was a statistically significant reduction in symptoms of agitation. Further studies should utilize stricter parameters in study design to evaluate the benefit of this specific therapeutic intervention.