The Influence of Ambient Scent and Music on Patients' Anxiety in a Waiting Room of a Plastic Surgeon

Anna Fenko, Caroline Loock

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45 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVE: This study investigates the influence of ambient scent and music, and their combination, on patients' anxiety in a waiting room of a plastic surgeon. BACKGROUND: Waiting for an appointment with a plastic surgeon can increase a patient's anxiety. It is important to make the waiting time before an appointment with the surgeon more pleasant and to reduce the patient's anxiety. Ambient environmental stimuli can influence people's mood, cognition, and behavior. This experimental study was performed to test whether ambient scent and music can help to reduce patients' anxiety. METHODS: Two pre-studies (n = 21) were conducted to measure the subjective pleasantness and arousal of various scents and music styles. Scent and music that scored high on pleasantness and low on arousal were selected for the main study. The field experiment (n = 117) was conducted in the waiting room of a German plastic surgeon. The patients' levels of anxiety were measured in four conditions: (1) without scent and music, (2) with lavender scent; (3) with instrumental music; (4) with both scent and music. RESULTS: When used separately, each of the environmental factors, music and scent, significantly reduced the level of patient's anxiety compared to the control condition. However, the combination of scent and music was not effective in reducing anxiety. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that ambient scent and music can help to reduce patients' anxiety, but they should be used with caution. Adding more ambient elements to environment could raise patients' level of arousal and thus increase their anxiety
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-59
JournalHERD (Health environments research and design journal)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • IR-90687
  • METIS-303559

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