BACKGROUND: Hot flashes are a highly prevalent problem associated with menopause and breast cancer treatments. The recent findings from the Women's HealthInitiative have important implications for the significance of a non-hormonal, mind-body intervention for hot flashes in breast cancer survivors. Women who take hormone therapy long-term may have a 1.2 to 2.0 fold increased risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, it is now known that hormone therapy with estrogen and progestin is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Currently there are limited options to hormone replacement therapy as non-hormonal pharmacological agents are associated with only modest activity and many adverse side effects. Because of this there is a need for more alternative, non-hormonal therapies. Hypnosis is a mind-body intervention that has been shown to reduce self-reported hot flashes by up to 68% among breast cancer survivors, however, the use of hypnosis for hot flashes among post-menopausal women has not been adequately explored and the efficacy of hypnosis in reducing physiologically measured hot flashes has not yet been determined. METHODS/DESIGN: A sample of 180 post-menopausal women will be randomly assigned to either a 5-session Hypnosis Intervention or 5-session structured-attention control with 12 week follow-up. The present study will compare hypnosis to a structured-attention control in reducing hot flashes (perceived and physiologically monitored) in post-menopausal women in a randomized clinical trial. Outcomes will be hot flashes (self-report daily diaries; physiological monitoring; Hot Flash Related Daily Interference Scale), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS); anxiety visual analog scale (VAS rating); depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale), sexual functioning (Sexual Activity Questionnaire), sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) and cortisol. DISCUSSION: This study will be the first full scale test of hypnosis for hot flashes; one of the first studies to examine both perceived impact and physiologically measured impact of a mind-body intervention for hot flashes using state-of-the-art 24 hour ambulatory physiological monitoring; the first study to examine the effect of hypnosis for hot flashes on cortisol; and the first investigation of the role of cognitive expectancies in treatment of hot flashes in comparison to a Structured-Attention Control. TRIAL REGISTRATION: This clinical trial has been registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01293695.
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Oct 11;11:92. Elkins GR, Fisher WI, Johnson AK. Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, One Bear Place # 97334, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA. Gary_Elkins@baylor.edu