Evaluation of a group cognitive behavioural intervention for women suffering from menopausal symptoms following breast cancer treatment



Objective: To evaluate a group cognitive behavioural intervention to alleviate menopausal symptoms in women who have had treatment for breast cancer.

Methods: A single group design was used with pre- and post-treatment assessment and a 3-months follow-up. Seventeen women who had completed active breast cancer treatment were treated. Following a 2-week daily diary assessment they were offered 6 (90 min) weekly sessions of Group cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). The CBT included information and discussion, relaxation and paced breathing and CBT to reduce stress and manage hot flushes (HF), night sweats (NS) and sleep. The primary outcome measure was Hot Flush Frequency and Hot Flush Problem Rating; secondary outcomes included the Women's Health Questionnaire (WHQ) and health-related quality of life (SF 36). Beliefs about HF were monitored in order to examine the effects of cognitive therapy.

Results: HF and NS reduced significantly following treatment (38% reduction in frequency and 49% in problem rating) and improvements were maintained at 3 months follow-up (49% reduction in frequency and 59% in problem rating). Depressed mood, anxiety and sleep (WHQ) significantly improved, as did aspects of quality of life (SF 36) (emotional role limitation, energy/vitality and mental health). There was a significant reduction in negative beliefs about HF, NS and sleep following CBT.

Conclusions: These results suggest that CBT delivered in groups might offer a viable option for women with troublesome menopausal symptoms following breast cancer treatment, but further controlled trials are needed. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.