Serfaty, M., Wilkinson, S., Freeman, C., Mannix, K., & King, M. (2012). The ToT study: Helping with Touch or Talk (ToT): A pilot randomised controlled trial to examine the clinical effectiveness of aromatherapy massage versus cognitive behaviour therapy for emotional distress in patients in cancer/palliative care. Psycho-Oncology, 21, 563–569.doi: 10.1002/pon.1921
To pilot a randomized trial examining the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and aromatherapy massage (AM) in reducing emotional distress in patients with cancer and to compare the differences in effectiveness between the CBT and AM groups
Participants were randomized to one of two treatment groups: CBT or AM. The study did not explain how the CBT intervention was actually implemented, except to note that trained and accredited therapists delivered the therapy. The study listed the topics covered in the CBT sessions but did not describe the procedures, group-session format, etc. AM was described as standard massage with 20 essential oils, delivered by a trained aromatherapist, in a quiet room with minimal talking. Each group received one of these interventions along with “treatment as usual” (standard care). Both groups were offered, after study entry, up to eight one-hour sessions delivered over 10 weeks. Time interval between treatments was not delineated.
Patients were undergoing multiple phases of care.
The study, a pilot, was a randomized, single-blind, prospective, repeated-measure clinical trial with no control group. Measures were collected at baseline and at three and six months postintervention.
The study was drastically underpowered, with too small a sample to allow researchers to draw meaningful conclusions. The study produced no statistically significant findings.
AM may be beneficial as a treatment for short-term anxiety. This poorly designed and controlled pilot study offers no other immediate nursing implication.