Women's experiences of Group Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for hot flushes and night sweats following breast cancer treatment: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Maturitas. 2012 Jul;72(3):236-42. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2012.03.013. Epub 2012 Apr 24.


Objectives: Many women with breast cancer experience problematic treatment-related menopausal symptoms (HF/NS). This study explores how these women experienced a Group Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) intervention to help them manage their treatment-related HF/NS. The study was conducted as part of a randomised control trial/RCT (MENOS 1) evaluating the intervention among this target group.

Methods: In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty trial participants to explore how they experienced the intervention and its effects. The interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Results: The analysis revealed four superordinate themes: Making sense of symptom change; new ways of coping and regaining control; tailoring the treatment to meet individual needs and resources; and valuing the group context, social support and social comparisons. All the women found Group CBT improved their ability to cope with their HF/NS, while also developing an appreciation of the role of psychological factors in their symptom experience. Through the knowledge and understanding acquired women developed a more accepting stance to their symptoms, as well as gaining a 'sense of control'.

Conclusions: The results are consistent with the main RCT outcomes which showed that Group CBT led to a clinically significant reduction in 'HF/NS problem rating' relative to 'treatment as usual', as well as improvements in mood and physical and social functioning. The results complement the trial outcomes by illuminating women's experience of different components of the intervention and highlighting possible mechanisms of change.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Comprehension
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hot Flashes / etiology
  • Hot Flashes / psychology
  • Hot Flashes / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Environment
  • Sweating*


  • Antineoplastic Agents