This study aimed to establish the sternal skin conductance level (SCL) increase that would optimally detect hot flashes among breast cancer patients.
Fifty-six women who had completed a similar treatment protocol for a first diagnosis of breast cancer within the previous 3 months wore an ambulatory sternal skin conductance device for one home-based daytime recording of hot flashes.
A total of 199 hot flashes were reported by the participants using the event marker. A 2-µS (µmho) SCL increase within a 30-second period, the criterion typically used, had a sensitivity of only 32% and a specificity of 97%. Comparatively, the alternative criterion proposed here, a 1.2-µmho SCL increase, yielded a sensitivity of 61% and a specificity of 90%.
This study provides evidence that a lower SCL criterion should be used to better detect objectively recorded hot flashes among breast cancer patients. Further work is needed to validate the proposed criterion among this population.