Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Plus Hypnosis for Distress During Breast Radiotherapy: A Randomized Trial

Am J Clin Hypn. 2017 Oct;60(2):109-122. doi: 10.1080/00029157.2017.1335635.


Radiotherapy is a common and effective treatment for women with breast cancer. However, radiotherapy has also been shown to adversely affect patients' emotional well-being. Currently, few mind-body interventions are designed to improve patients' quality of life during radiotherapy. One intervention which has demonstrated clinical efficacy in the breast cancer radiotherapy setting is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy plus Hypnosis. The goal of this study was to investigate the impact of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy plus Hypnosis on emotional distress in women with breast cancer undergoing radiotherapy. One hundred patients were randomly assigned to either the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy plus Hypnosis (n = 50) or Attention Control (n = 50) group. Results revealed significant benefits of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy plus Hypnosis on emotional distress at the mid-point (d = 0.54), the conclusion (d = 0.64), and 4 weeks following the conclusion (d = 0.65) of radiotherapy (all ps < 0.05). In summary, results support further study of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy plus Hypnosis as an evidence-based intervention to reduce emotional distress in women with breast cancer. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy plus Hypnosis has the benefits of being brief, noninvasive, lacking side-effects, and producing beneficial effects which last beyond the conclusion of radiotherapy. Given these strengths, we propose that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy plus Hypnosis is a strong candidate for greater dissemination and implementation in cancer populations.

Keywords: breast cancer; cognitive-behavioral therapy; hypnosis; radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiotherapy / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*