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Open Access Research article

The effect of hormone therapy on women's quality of life in the first year of the Estonian Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy trial

Piret Veerus12*, Sirpa-Liisa Hovi3, Tiina Sevón4, Myra Hunter5 and Elina Hemminki46

Author Affiliations

1 Department of epidemiology and biostatistics, National Institute for Health Development, Hiiu 42, 11619, Tallinn, Estonia

2 Hjelt Institute, University of Helsinki, PO BOX 40 (Kytösuontie 11), FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

3 National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)/Finnish Office for Health Technology Assessment (Finohta), POB 30 (Lintulahdenkuja 4), FI-00271, Helsinki, Finland

4 National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), POB 30 (Lintulahdenkuja 4), FI-00271, Helsinki, Finland

5 Dept Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry (Guy’s Campus), King’s College London, SE1 9RT, London, UK

6 Tampere School of Public Health, FI-33014, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:176  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-176

Published: 3 April 2012

Abstract

Background

For postmenopausal women, the main reason to start hormone therapy (HT) is to reduce menopausal symptoms and to improve quality of life (QOL). The aim of this study was to analyse the impact of HT on different aspects of symptom experience and QOL during a randomised trial.

A total of 1823 postmenopausal women were recruited into the Estonian Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy (EPHT) trial in 1999–2001. Women were randomised to blind HT, open-label HT, placebo or non-treatment arm. After one year in the trial, a questionnaire was mailed and 1359 women (75%) responded, 686 in the HT arms and 673 in the non-HT arms. Mean age at filling in the questionnaire was 59.8 years. The questionnaire included Women's Health Questionnaire (WHQ) to assess menopause specific QOL of middle-aged women together with a 17-item questionnaire on symptoms related to menopause, a question about painful intercourse, and a question about women's self-rated health.

Results

After one year in the trial, fewer women in the HT arms reported hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and sweating on the symptom questionnaire. According to WHQ, women in the HT arms had fewer vasomotor symptoms, sleep problems, and problems with sexual behaviour, but more menstrual symptoms; HT had no effect on depression, somatic symptoms, memory, attractiveness, or anxiety. A smaller proportion of women reported painful intercourse in the HT arms. There were no significant differences between the trial arms in women’s self-rated subjective health.

Conclusions

The results from the EPHT trial confirm that HT is not justified for treating symptoms, other than vasomotor symptoms, among postmenopausal women. WHQ proved to be a useful and sensitive tool to assess QOL in this age group of women.

Keywords:
Randomised controlled trial; Postmenopausal hormone therapy; Quality of life