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Validation of a sternal skin conductance criterion for measuring hot flashes in breast cancer patients

Savard, Marie-Hélène PhD1,2; Savard, Josée PhD1,2,3; Ivers, Hans PhD1,2

Menopause:
doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e3182947af3
Original Articles
Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to establish the sternal skin conductance level (SCL) increase that would optimally detect hot flashes among breast cancer patients.

Methods: Fifty-six women who had completed a similar treatment protocol for a first diagnosis of breast cancer within the previous 3 months wore an ambulatory sternal skin conductance device for one home-based daytime recording of hot flashes.

Results: A total of 199 hot flashes were reported by the participants using the event marker. A 2-μS (μmho) SCL increase within a 30-second period, the criterion typically used, had a sensitivity of only 32% and a specificity of 97%. Comparatively, the alternative criterion proposed here, a 1.2-μmho SCL increase, yielded a sensitivity of 61% and a specificity of 90%.

Conclusions: This study provides evidence that a lower SCL criterion should be used to better detect objectively recorded hot flashes among breast cancer patients. Further work is needed to validate the proposed criterion among this population.

Author Information

From the 1Laval University Cancer Research Center, Québec, Canada; 2Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec, Québec, Canada; and 3School of Psychology, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada.

Received February 1, 2013; revised and accepted March 27, 2013.

This study was conducted at the Laval University Cancer Research Center.

Funding/support: This study was supported by salary support awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (M.-H.S. and J.S.) and the Fonds pour la recherche en santé du Québec (M.-H.S., J.S., and H.I.). This study was also partly supported by a grant from the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance (DEX 017529).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Josée Savard, PhD, Laval University Cancer Research Center, 11 Côte du Palais, Québec, Québec, Canada G1R 2J6. E-mail: josee.savard@psy.ulaval.ca

© 2014 by The North American Menopause Society.