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This article is part of the supplement: Scientific Abstracts Presented at the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health 2012

Open Access Oral presentation

OA14.05. Hypnosis for hot flashes: results from a randomized clinical trial and future directions

G Elkins*, W Fisher and A Johnson

  • * Corresponding author: G Elkins

Author Affiliations

Baylor University, Waco, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12(Suppl 1):O57  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-S1-O57

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:12 June 2012

© 2012 Elkins et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hot flashes are a significant clinical problem for many women. Currently there are limited options to hormone replacement therapy as non-hormonal pharmacological agents are associated with only modest activity and many adverse side effects. Hypnosis is one mind-body therapy that seems particularly promising for treating hot flashes and was investigated in the present study. This study examined the efficacy of hypnosis in reducing both self-reported and physiologically determined hot flash frequency and severity among post-menopausal women.


One-hundred and seventy post-menopausal women with moderate to severe hot flashes were randomly assigned to either a 5-session hypnosis intervention or a 5-session structured-attention control condition. All sessions were provided consistent with a treatment manual and all therapists were trained to criteria for consistency and treatment fidelity. Primary outcome measures were self-reported hot flash frequency and severity (determined via daily diaries) and physiologically monitored hot flashes (determined via sternal skin conductance). Physiological assessment of hot flashes were made using 24-hour recordings of sternal skin conductance. Measures were obtained at baseline, at the end of the five weeks intervention, and at 12 week follow-up.


Results demonstrated that hot flash scores (self-report of frequency and severity of hot flashes) for the participants that received the therapist delivered hypnosis intervention decreased by approximately 70% at 5 weeks and continued to decline to approximately 80% at the 12 week follow-up. Physiologically assessed hot flashes demonstrated a 50% reduction at 5 weeks and approximately 60% reduction at 12 weeks for participants in the therapist delivered hypnosis condition.


To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate a clinically significant reduction in physiologically measured hot flashes using a hypnosis intervention. This study has important implications for women experiencing hot flashes who are contraindicated for hormone replacement therapy.