Nurse’s Study on Essential Oils Helps Cardiac Rehab Patients Improve Sleep Quality

New aromatherapy program initiated to help patients health

FORT WORTH, Texas — Patients in the Cardiac Rehabilitation program at Texas Health Fort Worth are not losing much sleep over their recovery — thanks to Brenda McDonnell, B.S.N., R.N., CCAP, PCCN-K.

McDonnell, who has been a nurse at Texas Health Fort Worth for 10 years, recently established an aromatherapy program on the Cardiac Rehabilitation unit to help patients heal with essential oils.

“I am passionate about the use of aromatherapy in the hospital setting,” McDonnell said. “When administered safely and used as a complementary medicine, patients can have great benefits.”


Study Details


Forty-two patients at Texas Health Fort Worth were recruited for the study.

The patients placed cotton balls infused with either an interventional oil mixture of Lavandula x intermieda (Lavendin Super), Citrus bergamia (Bergamot), and Cananga odorata (Ylang ylang) or an aromatic placebo mixture at their bedside for five nights.

The participants then completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) at the conclusion of the treatment.

After a one-week wash-out period, patients switched to the opposing group and repeated the treatment procedure.


Study results indicated patients who used the interventional oils had overall better sleep quality than those who received the placebo.

The mean PSQI score for those receiving the interventional oils was 4.9 compared to an 8 for those receiving the placebo. Lower PSQI scores indicate better sleep quality.

Texas Health’s policy requires a certified clinical aromatherapy practitioner (CCAP) to oversee an aromatherapy program on a hospital unit, McDonnell explained.

“When I began working in Cardiac Rehab, there was not a CCAP, so I decided to pursue this certification,” she said.

McDonnell conducted an eight-month-long research study, with the support of Texas Health nurse scientist Patty Newcomb, Ph.D., R.N., on the “Effects of Essential Oils on Sleep Among Cardiac Rehabilitation Patients.”

The study aimed to determine if there was a significant difference in the sleep quality of cardiac rehabilitation patients exposed to the aroma of an essential oil mixture compared to those not exposed. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality is linked to cardiovascular morbidity in epidemiological studies, according to McDonnell’s research abstract.

Her study found that the number of hours people slept didn’t change, but that they had better quality sleep when using the oils.

McDonnell continues to track pre- and post-intervention results, which remain positive. She uses aromatherapy for her patients in the traditional Cardiac Rehab program on an as needed basis, especially when a patient indicates sleep disturbances upon initial assessment or at any point during the three-phase Cardiac Rehab program.

“We’ve also used aromatherapy to help assist patients with smoking cessation and relieve stress,” she said. “Aromatherapy is also frequently used during weekly yoga classes that are offered to our patients.”

At this time, patients are not charged for the aromatherapy services.

“I love seeing my patients get well, enjoying exercise and making healthy lifestyle changes they can live with,” Brenda said.





About Texas Health Resources 
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States. The health system, which along with UT Southwestern founded Southwestern Health Resources in 2016 to make it easier for North Texans to access the highest quality care consistently in a responsive and coordinated manner, includes 29 hospital locations that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley Hospitals, Texas Health Physicians Group, outpatient facilities, behavioral health and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education. For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit


 Published On: 12/13/2017                  Original Source 

-Employment opportunities are only reflective of wholly owned Texas Health Resources entities.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employees or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class. LEARN MORE

Powered by SmashFly