HMFW Study Shows Clinical Aromatherapy Relieves Stress in Intensive Care Unit Nurses

FORT WORTH, Texas – Compassion fatigue and stress is one of the leading causes of decreased productivity, morale and burnout in nurses nationwide. Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital recently conducted a study examining whether clinical aromatherapy could reduce work-related stress of intensive care unit (ICU) nurses.

The study involved 14 intensive care nurses over the course of 42 nursing shifts. Nurses were given Lavandula angustifolia, true lavender, and Salvia Sclaria, clary sage, essential oils. Both oils have been shown to calm stress and anxiety in past research.

More than 57 percent of the nurses surveyed reported a decrease in perceived stress levels after using the essential oils.

“The study showed that the use of clinical aromatherapy is effective in reducing stress, which we hope will improve retention, turnover and increase nurses satisfaction with their jobs,” said Erin Pemberton, B.S.N., R.N., C.P.A.N., L.M.T., C.C.A.P., lead researcher and Med/Surg ICU nurse.

A National Issue
Stress plays one of the biggest roles in nursing satisfaction and nursing retention. The American Association of Nursing Colleges predicts that there will be a need for more than 340,000 nurses by 2020.

Pemberton’s study specifically addresses this national issue. Her results were recently published in the March/April 2008 issue of Holistic Nursing Practice.

“My goal was to take a creative and relaxing approach to help solve an issue that not only impacted me, but the rest of my co-workers,” Pemberton said. “Intensive care nurses are called to participate in end-of-life decisions, patient resuscitations, and support families through a patient’s journey. It is important for nurses to have outlets and options for stress relief.”

Pemberton and others plan to expand this study to other nursing units at Harris Methodist.

For more information on the study or on clinical aromatherapy at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, visit

About Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital
Opened in 1930, Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital is a Magnet-designated hospital, and Tarrant County's largest and busiest hospital and regional referral center. A member of Texas Health Resources, HMFW is licensed for 724 beds and provides the following services: cardiovascular; high risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology; neurosciences; orthopedics and sports medicine; rehabilitation; adult critical care and neonatal intensive care; trauma and emergency medicine; cancer care; medical/surgical; kidney transplants; occupational health; and more. The campus is home to almost 1,000 members of the medical staff, more than 4,000 employees, 200 volunteers and the 100-bed Harris Methodist Heart Center. For more information, please call 1-888-4-HARRIS, or visit

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources in one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR controls 13 affiliated hospitals and a medical research organization, and is a corporate member or partner in seven additional hospitals and surgery centers. THR’s family of hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System. For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit