Acupuncture for the Management of Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors
Acupuncture for the Management of Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer SurvivorsHollis McClellan Misiewicz, DNPDirector: Janice Agazio, PhD, CRNP, RN In the United States, more women are diagnosed with breast cancer than any other type of cancer. As earlier diagnosis and new treatment modalities increase survival for these women, health care practitioners must address long-term problems secondary to cancer therapy. The development of severe hot flashes, affecting up to 85% of breast cancer survivors, can significantly affect quality of life. Many hot flash treatments are ineffective, have intolerable side effects, or are contraindicated for breast cancer survivors. Research supports the use of acupuncture as an effective, safe treatment for minimizing hot flashes in breast cancer survivors.Purpose: The purpose of this evidence-based practice project was to determine if acupuncture is effective at decreasing the number and severity of hot flashes and improving sleep in breast cancer survivors at an urban hospital. The acceptability of acupuncture as a treatment for hot flashes was also explored.Design: The study design for this project was a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design. Qualitative data was also obtained by interview after participants completed acupuncture treatments.Methods: Eligible women completed a Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and recorded hot flash frequency and severity in a hot flash diary for a week before and after acupuncture treatment. Acceptability of acupuncture was assessed using a Likert Scale (1-10). Participants received twice weekly acupuncture treatments for four weeks. Pre and post acupuncture hot flash frequency and severity, PSQI sleep disturbance score, and acceptability ratings were compared. Participants were interviewed and descriptions of the acupuncture experience examined for themes.Results: Paired t-test revealed significant improvement in night time hot flash frequency (p = 0.04) and severity (p = 0.001). Daytime hot flash severity significantly improved (p < 0.001) although no significant difference was noted in hot flash frequency (p = 0.089). PSQI score was significantly improved following acupuncture (p = 0.021). No significant difference was found between pre and post acceptability scores (p = 0.428). Participants' descriptions of acupuncture encompassed three themes; acupuncture is (1) effective, (2) relaxing, and (3) painful at times. Conclusion: Acupuncture can be effective in reducing the severity and frequency of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors.
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