Methods used in cross-cultural comparisons of somatic symptoms and their determinants
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This paper is the third in a series of reviews of cross-cultural studies of symptoms at midlife. The goal of this review is to examine methods used previously in cross-cultural studies of menopause and women's health at midlife to (1) identify challenges in the measurement of somatic symptoms across cultures and (2) recommend questions and tools that can be used in future research. This review also aims to examine the determinants of somatic symptoms. The review concludes that methods used for assessing somatic symptoms differ across studies. Somatic symptoms, particularly, aches, pain, and fatigue have a high prevalence. Statistically significant differences were seen in the prevalence of somatic symptoms across cultures. Based on the number of studies that demonstrated cross-cultural differences in symptom prevalence, we recommend that the following symptoms be included in future studies of symptoms at midlife: headaches, aches/pain, palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, breathing difficulties, numbness or tingling, and gastrointestinal difficulties. We also recommend that objective measures of physical function be administered when possible to supplement subjective self-evaluation.
Clinical Sciences not elsewhere classified