A critical appraisal of vasomotor symptom assessment tools used in clinical trials evaluating hormone therapy compared to placebo

Marie K. Christakis, Donna M. Strobino, Wen Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective:Vasomotor symptoms (VMS) have been consistently reported as the leading predictor of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among menopausal women, and the strongest indication for treatment. The North American Menopause Society endorses the use of oral estrogen for the treatment of VMS based on a Cochrane meta-analysis. The Cochrane review concludes that oral hormone therapy reduces the frequency and severity of VMS. The objective of this review is to critically appraise the outcome measures used in these clinical trials to evaluate whether there is adequate evidence that oral hormone therapy improves HRQOL.Methods:Each trial in the 2004 Cochrane review of oral hormone therapy for the management of VMS was evaluated with respect to study design, outcome measures, and method of analysis.Results:Twenty-four randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials were appraised. Six trials were excluded from the Cochrane meta-analysis due to inadequate reporting of outcome measures. Of the remaining trials, 15 trials assessed only symptom frequency and/or severity. One trial used a subscale of the General Health Questionnaire. Two trials used the Greene Climacteric Scale, a validated outcome measure in menopausal women, to directly assess the impact of hormone therapy on HRQOL. Both studies showed an improvement in HRQOL in the hormone-treated group, although the sample size was small (n=118) and the effect was modest.Conclusion:Although oral hormone therapy improves VMS scores, there is a paucity of evidence on whether it improves HRQOL in menopausal women. Future studies using validated, patient-reported outcome measures that directly assess HRQOL are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1334-1341
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Hormone therapy
  • Hot flashes
  • Quality of life
  • Randomized controlled trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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