Methodologic lessons learned from hot flash studies

J Clin Oncol. 2001 Dec 1;19(23):4280-90. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2001.19.23.4280.


Purpose: In the course of conducting a series of prospective clinical trials devoted to defining new treatment opportunities for hot flashes in cancer survivors, considerable experience has been acquired with related methodologic issues. This article has been written in response to many queries regarding this methodology.

Patients and methods: A series of seven different clinical trials that involved 968 patients was used for this work. Reliable and valid definitions of hot flash intensity were developed from patient-reported descriptions. Concomitant validity and reliability assessment of patient-completed diaries was undertaken to compare hot flash data with toxicity and quality-of-life (QOL) end points and to examine consistency across patient groups using variability analysis and correlation procedures. Parametric data from this meta-analysis was used to examine relative power considerations for the design of phase II and phase III clinical trials.

Results: Daily diaries used in these studies exhibited consistency and reliability and had few missing data. Hot flash frequency and hot flash score (frequency multiplied by average severity) variables produced almost identical end point results. For phase III placebo-controlled studies, 50 patients per treatment arm seem appropriate to provide sufficient power specifications to detect a clinically meaningful change in hot flash activity. For phase II trials, 25 patients per trial seem to provide reasonable estimates of eventual hot flash efficacy to screen potential agents for more definitive testing.

Conclusion: Given the data gained from these experiences, we can plan and carry out more efficient trials to identify efficacious agents for the reduction of hot flash activity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic / methods
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic / methods
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Quality of Life*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Research Design
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Survivors*


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors