Objective: The use of estrogen and progesterone to manage vasomotor symptoms (ie, hot flashes and night sweats) has declined because of concerns about their risks, and there is an increased interest in alternate, effective, and low-risk treatments. This study reports the results of a randomized controlled trial of clinical hypnosis for treating vasomotor symptoms among postmenopausal women.
Methods: This is a randomized, single-blind, controlled, clinical trial involving 187 postmenopausal women reporting a minimum of seven hot flashes per day (or at least 50 hot flashes a week) at baseline between December 2008 and April 2012. Eligible participants received five weekly sessions of either clinical hypnosis or structured-attention control. Primary outcomes were hot flash frequency (subjectively and physiologically recorded) and hot flash score assessed by daily diaries on weeks 2 to 6 and week 12. Secondary outcomes included measures of hot flash–related daily interference, sleep quality, and treatment satisfaction.
Results: In a modified intent-to-treat analysis that included all randomized participants who provided data, reported subjective hot flash frequency from baseline to week 12 showed a mean reduction of 55.82 (74.16%) hot flashes for the clinical hypnosis intervention versus a mean reduction of 12.89 (17.13%) hot flashes for controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 36.15-49.67). The mean reduction in hot flash score was 18.83 (80.32%) for the clinical hypnosis intervention as compared with 3.53 (15.38%) for controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 12.60-17.54). At 12-week follow-up, the mean reduction in physiologically monitored hot flashes was 5.92 (56.86%) for clinical hypnosis and 0.88 (9.94%) for controls (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 2.00-5.46). Secondary outcomes were significantly improved compared with controls at 12-week follow-up: hot flash–related interference (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 2.74-4.02), sleep quality (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 3.65-5.84), and treatment satisfaction (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 7.79-8.59).
Conclusions: Compared with structured-attention control, clinical hypnosis results in significant reductions in self-reported and physiologically measured hot flashes and hot flash scores in postmenopausal women.