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No data are available on either quantitative or qualitative aspects of the climacteric hot flash, yet the phenomenon is widely treated despite unknown aetiology. A basic assumption of this study was that a more complete understanding and description of women with hot flashes would identify alternatives to oestrogens used by women for relief of the hot-flash symptom. An exploratory study was undertaken to answer the question: Who is the woman who has hot flashes and what are the characteristics of the hot flashes? The methodology employed was daily self-report by subjects of hot-flash frequency, duration, trigger, origin, spread, intensity and method of coping with it. Analysis of 20 randomly-selected 2 wk self-report record cards revealed no hot-flash pattern among women. A total of 1041 hot flashes were reported. Mean duration of the hot flash was 3.31 min (range 5 sec to 60 min). Neither hot flash origin nor spread was restricted to the upper body in all subjects. Subjects ranked their hot flash as either mild, moderate or severe. Coping strategies used by subjects (external and internal cooling methods) appeared to be related to both duration and severity of the hot flash.
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Accepted: January 15, 1981
Received: June 4, 1980
© 1981 Published by Elsevier Inc.