Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Nursing (MAN)



First Advisor

Joyce P. Miller, DNP, RN

Second Advisor

Pauline Abraham, DNP, RN

Third Advisor

Katherine Martin, Ph.D., CNM, RN


People with intellectual disabilities encounter many barriers when seeking medical care, which increases their risk for stress and anxiety associated with the care encounter. These barriers originate from a variety of sources. Challenges with receptive and expressive communication and physical and sensory limitations can significantly interfere with providing acute and routine medical care. Health care settings and health care providers may also lack the preparation necessary to navigate care for this population. As a result, care encounters can become stressful events, particularly when associated with past negative experiences. Aromatherapy is gaining increased recognition for its potential applications, including the reduction of stress and anxiety. Lavender and peppermint essential oils have both been demonstrated to reduce stress and promote relaxation through aromatherapy. A project to explore the potential application of lavender and peppermint aromatherapy via a personal diffuser to reduce stress and anxiety for people with intellectual disabilities during medical care was developed. Drawing upon Martha Rogers’ theories of energy, patterns, reciprocity, and synchrony, this project proposes using aromatherapy to influence the environmental energy of the care encounter. The project’s success will be evaluated by the reduction of stress and anxiety during medical care based on patient feedback, provider evaluation of the encounter, and the physiological markers of heart and respiratory rates. If implemented, these data sources will determine the project's success and potential for improvement and advancement of future nursing practice.


SC 11.MAN.2023.Lenz.SC