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Randomised controlled trial comparing hypnotherapy versus gabapentin for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors: a pilot study
  1. Shannon MacLaughlan David1,
  2. Sandra Salzillo2,
  3. Patrick Bowe3,
  4. Sandra Scuncio2,
  5. Bridget Malit4,
  6. Christina Raker2,
  7. Jennifer S Gass2,
  8. C O Granai2,
  9. Don S Dizon5
  1. 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford Women's Cancer Center, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
  2. 2Program in Women's Oncology, Women & Infants Hospital, Alpert Medical School at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  3. 3Providence Hypnosis Center, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  4. 4Department of Pediatrics, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York, USA
  5. 5Department of Internal Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shannon MacLaughlan David; smaclaug{at}


Objectives To compare the efficacy of hypnotherapy versus gabapentin for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors, and to evaluate the feasibility of conducting a clinical trial comparing a drug with a complementary or alternative method (CAM).

Design Prospective randomised trial.

Setting Breast health centre of a tertiary care centre.

Participants 15 women with a personal history of breast cancer or an increased risk of breast cancer who reported at least one daily hot flash.

Interventions Gabapentin 900 mg daily in three divided doses (control) compared with standardised hypnotherapy. Participation lasted 8 weeks.

Outcome measures The primary endpoints were the number of daily hot flashes and hot flash severity score (HFSS). The secondary endpoint was the Hot Flash Related Daily Interference Scale (HFRDIS).

Results 27 women were randomised and 15 (56%) were considered evaluable for the primary endpoint (n=8 gabapentin, n=7 hypnotherapy). The median number of daily hot flashes at enrolment was 4.5 in the gabapentin arm and 5 in the hypnotherapy arm. HFSS scores were 7.5 in the gabapentin arm and 10 in the hypnotherapy arm. After 8 weeks, the median number of daily hot flashes was reduced by 33.3% in the gabapentin arm and by 80% in the hypnotherapy arm. The median HFSS was reduced by 33.3% in the gabapentin arm and by 85% in the hypnotherapy arm. HFRDIS scores improved by 51.6% in the gabapentin group and by 55.2% in the hypnotherapy group. There were no statistically significant differences between groups.

Conclusions Hypnotherapy and gabapentin demonstrate efficacy in improving hot flashes. A definitive trial evaluating traditional interventions against CAM methods is feasible, but not without challenges. Further studies aimed at defining evidence-based recommendations for CAM are necessary.

Trial registration (NCT00711529).

  • Hypnotherapy
  • Hot Flashes
  • Breast Cancer

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