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Br J Clin Psychol. 1997 May; 36 ( Pt 2)(): 287-96.

Single case evaluation of the effects of aromatherapy and massage on disturbed behaviour in severe dementia.

Brooker DJ, Snape M, Johnson E, Ward D, Payne M.

South Birmingham Mental Health (NHS) Trust, UK.

Aromatherapy and massage could provide a useful addition to psychological therapeutic interventions with clients suffering from dementia. The effects of aromatherapy and massage on disturbed behaviour in four individuals with severe dementia were evaluated using a single-case research design. Each participant received 10 treatment sessions of aromatherapy, aromatherapy and massage combined, and massage alone. The effects on each individual's behaviour in the hour following treatment were assessed against 10 'no treatment' control sessions. Reliable individualized disturbed behaviour scales were designed. The effects of the treatments were mixed. The opinion of the staff providing treatment was that all participants benefited. On close scrutiny, only one of the participants benefited from the aromatherapy and massage to a degree that reached statistical significance. In two of the cases aromatherapy and massage led to an increase in agitated behaviour. The importance of the single case study approach with this client group is discussed.

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