Purpose: To determine whether hypnotherapy reduces anxiety and improves the quality of life in cancer patients undergoing curative radiotherapy (RT).
Methods and materials: After providing written informed consent, 69 patients were randomized between standard curative RT alone (36 controls) and RT plus hypnotherapy (33 patients). Patients in the hypnotherapy group received hypnotherapy at the intake, before RT simulation, before the first RT session, and halfway between the RT course. Anxiety was evaluated by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory DY-1 form at six points. Quality of life was measured by the Rand Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Health Survey (SF-36) at five points. Additionally, patients answered a questionnaire to evaluate their experience and the possible benefits of this research project.
Results: No statistically significant difference was found in anxiety or quality of life between the hypnotherapy and control groups. However, significantly more patients in the hypnotherapy group indicated an improvement in mental (p <0.05) and overall (p <0.05) well-being.
Conclusion: Hypnotherapy did not reduce anxiety or improve the quality of life in cancer patients undergoing curative RT. The absence of statistically significant differences between the two groups contrasts with the hypnotherapy patients' own sense of mental and overall well-being, which was significantly greater after hypnotherapy. It cannot be excluded that the extra attention by the hypnotherapist was responsible for this beneficial effect in the hypnotherapy group. An attention-only control group would be necessary to control for this effect.