PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to test the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy plus hypnosis (CBTH) to control fatigue in patients with breast cancer undergoing radiotherapy. We hypothesized that patients in the CBTH group receiving radiotherapy would have lower levels of fatigue than patients in an attention control group.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients (n = 200) were randomly assigned to either the CBTH (n = 100; mean age, 55.59 years) or attention control (n = 100; mean age, 55.97 years) group. Fatigue was measured at four time points (baseline, end of radiotherapy, 4 weeks, and 6 months after radiotherapy). Fatigue was measured using the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT) -Fatigue subscale and Visual Analog Scales (VASs; Fatigue and Muscle Weakness).
RESULTS: The CBTH group had significantly lower levels of fatigue (FACIT) at the end of radiotherapy (z, 6.73; P < .001), 4-week follow-up (z, 6.98; P < .001), and 6-month follow-up (z, 7.99; P < .001) assessments. Fatigue VAS scores were significantly lower in the CBTH group at the end of treatment (z, 5.81; P < .001) and at the 6-month follow-up (z, 4.56; P < .001), but not at the 4-week follow-up (P < .07). Muscle Weakness VAS scores were significantly lower in the CBTH group at the end of treatment (z, 9.30; P < .001) and at the 6-month follow-up (z, 3.10; P < .02), but not at the 4-week follow-up (P < .13).
CONCLUSION: The results support CBTH as an evidence-based intervention to control fatigue in patients undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer. CBTH is noninvasive, has no adverse effects, and its beneficial effects persist long after the last intervention session. CBTH seems to be a candidate for future dissemination and implementation.