Background: Menopausal symptoms are common and may be particularly severe in younger women who undergo treatment-induced menopause. Medications to reduce menopausal symptoms are either contra-indicated or have bothersome side effects. Previous studies have demonstrated that face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in alleviating menopausal symptoms in women with breast cancer. However, compliance with face-to-face CBT programs can be problematic. A promising approach is to use the Internet to make this form of CBT more accessible and feasible for patients. This study is evaluating the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of an Internet-based CBT program, with or without therapist guidance, in alleviating or reducing the severity of menopausal symptoms.
Methods/design: In a multicenter, randomized controlled trial we are evaluating the efficacy of two Internet-based CBT programs in alleviating or reducing the impact of menopausal symptoms, and particularly hot flushes and night sweats, in breast cancer survivors who have experienced a treatment-induced menopause. Secondary outcomes include sexual functioning, sleep quality, hot flush frequency, psychological distress, health-related quality of life and cost-effectiveness. We will recruit 248 women who will be randomized to either a therapist guided or a self-management version of the 6-week Internet-based CBT program, or to a usual care, waiting list control group. Self-administered questionnaires are completed at baseline (T0), and at 10 weeks (T1) and 24 weeks (T2) post-randomization.
Discussion: Internet-based CBT is a potentially useful treatment for reducing menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors. This study will provide evidence on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of such an Internet-based CBT program, with or without therapist support. If demonstrated to be efficacious and cost-effective, the availability of such structured supportive intervention programs will be a welcome addition to standard medical treatment offered to cancer patients with treatment-induced menopause.
- Breast cancer
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Hot flushes
- Randomized controlled trial