Emergency department waiting room stress: can music or aromatherapy improve anxiety scores?

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31818ea04c


The aim of this study was to determine the effect of music alone, aromatherapy alone, and music in addition to aromatherapy on anxiety levels of adults accompanying children to a pediatric emergency department waiting area.

METHODS: The study was conducted over 28 consecutive days, assigned to 1 of 4 groups: no intervention, music, aromatherapy, and both music and aromatherapy. Adults accompanying children to the emergency department of an urban pediatric tertiary care referral center were given a survey including a Spielberger state anxiety inventory with additional questions about whether they noticed an aroma or music and if so their response to it. The music was classic ingenre with a tempo of 60 to 70 beats per minute. The aromatherapyused the essential oil Neroli dispersed using 2 aromatherapydiffusers placed in strategic airflow ends of the emergency department.

RESULTS: The 1104 surveys were completed. There was a statistically significant decrease in anxietylevel on those days when music was playing (36.3 vs. 39.2; P = 0.017). There was no difference in anxiety levels on those days when aromatherapy was present compared with the nonaromatherapy days (37.3 vs. 38.0; P = 0.347).

CONCLUSIONS: Music is an easy and useful way to decrease the anxiety of visitors in an emergency department waiting area. Although no difference was detected for the aromatherapy group, this could be because of environmental conditions or imprecise application of the aromatherapy; further study is needed to either prove or disprove its effectiveness in this setting.

Journal Title

Pediatric emergency care





First Page


Last Page


MeSH Keywords

Adult; Anxiety; Aromatherapy; Caregivers; Citrus; Data Collection; Emergency Service, Hospital; Female; Hospitals, Pediatric; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Music Therapy; Oils, Volatile; Parents; Stress, Psychological; Surveys and Questionnaires; Trauma Centers

Library Record