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A Pilot Study of Magnetic Therapy for Hot Flashes After Breast Cancer

Carpenter, Janet S. PhD, RN; Wells, Nancy DNSc, RN; Lambert, Beth MSN, RN; Watson, Peggy Lic Ac; Slayton, Tami Lic Ac; Chak, Bapsi MD; Hepworth, Joseph T. PhD; Worthington, W. Bradley MD

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The purpose of this randomized placebo-controlled crossover pilot study was to evaluate the effectiveness and acceptability of magnetic therapy for hot flashes among breast cancer survivors. Participants completed a 24-hour baseline hot-flash monitoring session, wore the magnetic devices or placebo for 3 days, completed an after-treatment hot-flash monitoring session, experienced a 10-day washout period, and then crossed over to the opposite study arm. Magnetic devices and placebos were placed on 6 acupressure sites corresponding to hot-flash relief. Complete data were available from 11 survivors of breast cancer. Results indicated magnetic therapy was no more effective than placebo in decreasing hot-flash severity, and contrary to expectations, placebo was significantly more effective than magnets in decreasing hot-flash frequency, bother, interference with daily activities, and overall quality of life. Implications for clinical practice and future research include the need to explore alternative interventions aimed at alleviating hot flashes in this population.

From the School of Nursing (Drs Carpenter and Hepworth and Ms Lambert), the Medical Center (Dr Wells), and Radiation Oncology (Dr Chak), Vanderbilt University; Five Element Health Care (Mss Watson and Slayton); and St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center (Dr Worthington), Nashville, Tenn.

This project was supported through the Vanderbilt–Ingram Cancer Center Support Grant (IP30 CA68485) and the Vanderbilt University Joint Center for Nursing Research.

Corresponding author: Janet S. Carpenter, PhD, RN, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Room 508 Godchaux Hall, 461 21st Ave South, Nashville, TN 37240 (e-mail: Janet.S.Carpenter@mcmail.Vanderbilt.edu).

Accepted for publication November 26, 2001.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.