Baylor Professor Receives Award for Complementary and Integrative Medicine Research

April 27, 2012

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WACO, Texas (April 27, 2012)--Dr. Gary Elkins, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, has received the 2012 Complementary and Integrative Medicine Investigator Research Award from the Society of Behavioral Medicine. The award was given in recognition of Dr. Elkins' research into an innovative use of hypnosis for reducing hot flashes among post-menopausal women.

Hot flashes are the most common symptom associated with menopause. It is estimated that more than 25 million women in the United States experience hot flashes, and more than 4 million report being severely affected as hot flashes can impact mood, sleep, and quality of life. Safe and effective treatments are needed, and Elkins discussed preliminary findings from a randomized trial in which post-menopausal women received either five sessions of hypnosis or meeting with a therapist without hypnosis. Women who received hypnosis reduced hot flashes by as much as 80 percent. This trial was honored by the society as the outstanding study in the field of complementary and alternative medicine during the past year.

"Hot flashes are a very significant problem for many women at mid-life, and there is a great interest in alternative treatments," Elkins said. "Hypnosis is a mind-body therapy with few side effects and can be an effective treatment. Our next steps are to better understand the benefits and to find a way to make the intervention widely available to help post-menopausal women with hot flashes."

Elkins is the director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University. He noted that he and his co-investigators are now pursuing developing a refined treatment manual as well as a plan to determine if the intervention can be provided through guided self-hypnosis as a critical next step in his research.

The trial was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.