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A pilot study of mindfulness-based stress reduction for hot flashes

Carmody, James PhD; Crawford, Sybil PhD; Churchill, Linda MS

doi: 10.1097/01.gme.0000227402.98933.d0
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Objective: A variety of results from both population and laboratory studies suggest that stress and hot flashes (HFs) are correlated and that HFs are more severe in women with lower coping abilities. The objective of this pilot study was to obtain information on the feasibility and effect of participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program on HF severity and menopause-related quality of life.

Design: Fifteen women volunteers reporting a minimum of seven moderate to severe HFs per day at study intake attended the eight weekly MBSR classes at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Participants were assessed for menopause-related quality of life before beginning and at the conclusion of the MBSR program. Women also kept a daily log of their HFs through the course of the 7 weeks of the MBSR program and for 4 weeks after it.

Results: Women's scores on quality-of-life measures increased significantly, and the median reported HF severity, calculated as the weekly average of a daily HF severity score, decreased 40% over the course of the 11 weeks of the assessment period. The women were individually interviewed at the completion of their participation, and the results of the interviews were consistent with the results from daily diaries.

Conclusions: These results provide preliminary positive evidence of the feasibility and efficacy of MBSR in supporting women who are experiencing severe HFs, and it warrants further investigation.

Perception of increased health risks associated with hormone therapy has resulted in increased interest in behavioral treatments for hot flashes. Participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program was associated with increases in menopause-related quality of life and reductions in reported hot flash severity.

From the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.

Received December 20, 2005; revised and accepted February 7, 2006.

This study was partly supported by in-house funds from the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine and the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Address correspondence to: James Carmody, PhD, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shaw Building, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655. E-mail: james.carmody@umassmed.edu.

©2006The North American Menopause Society