Hypnotherapy to Reduce Hot Flashes: Examination of Response Expectancies as a Mediator of Outcomes

J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct;22(4):652-659. doi: 10.1177/2156587217708523. Epub 2017 May 22.


The mechanism of action responsible for hypnotherapy's effect in reducing hot flashes is not yet known. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of response expectancies as a potential mediator. Hypnotizability was also tested as an effect moderator. Data were collected from a sample of 172 postmenopausal women, who had been randomized to receive either a 5-week hypnosis intervention or structured attention counseling. Measures of response expectancies were analyzed to determine if the relationship between group assignment and hot flashes frequency was mediated by expectancies for treatment efficacy. A series of simple mediation and conditional process analyses did not support mediation of the relationship between treatment condition and hot flash frequency through response expectancy. The effect of hypnotherapy in reducing hot flashes does not appear to be due to placebo effects as determined by response expectancies. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.

Keywords: hot flashes; hypnosis; mediation; response expectancies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Middle Aged