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Open Access Study protocol

A randomised controlled trial of a cognitive behavioural intervention for women who have menopausal symptoms following breast cancer treatment (MENOS 1): Trial protocol

Eleanor Mann1, Melanie Smith1, Jennifer Hellier2 and Myra S Hunter1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology (at Guy's), Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, 5th Floor Bermondsey Wing, Guy's Campus, London, SE1 9RT, UK

2 Department of Biostatistics, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, Box P064, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:44  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-44

Published: 31 January 2011

Abstract

Background

This trial aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a group cognitive behavioural intervention to alleviate menopausal symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats) in women who have had breast cancer treatment. Hot flushes and night sweats are highly prevalent but challenging to treat in this population. Cognitive behaviour therapy has been found to reduce these symptoms in well women and results of an exploratory trial suggest that it might be effective for breast cancer patients. Two hypotheses are tested:

Compared to usual care, group cognitive behavioural therapy will:

1. Significantly reduce the problem rating and frequency of hot flushes and nights sweats after six weeks of treatment and at six months post-randomisation.

2. Improve mood and quality of life after six weeks of treatment and at six months post-randomisation.

Methods/Design

Ninety-six women who have completed their main treatment for breast cancer and who have been experiencing problematic hot flushes and night sweats for over two months are recruited into the trial from oncology and breast clinics in South East London. They are randomised to either six weekly group cognitive behavioural therapy (Group CBT) sessions or to usual care. Group CBT includes information and discussion about hot flushes and night sweats in the context of breast cancer, monitoring and modifying precipitants, relaxation and paced respiration, stress management, cognitive therapy for unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, managing sleep and night sweats and maintaining changes.

Prior to randomisation women attend a clinical interview, undergo 24-hour sternal skin conductance monitoring, and complete questionnaire measures of hot flushes and night sweats, mood, quality of life, hot flush beliefs and behaviours, optimism and somatic amplification. Post-treatment measures (sternal skin conductance and questionnaires) are collected six to eight weeks later and follow-up measures (questionnaires and a use of medical services measure) at six months post-randomisation.

Discussion

MENOS 1 is the first randomised controlled trial of cognitive behavioural therapy for hot flushes and night sweats that measures both self-reported and physiologically indexed symptoms. The results will inform future clinical practice by developing an evidence-based, non-medical treatment, which can be delivered by trained health professionals.

Trial Registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN13771934