Overview of methods used in cross-cultural comparisons of menopausal symptoms and their determinants: Guidelines for Strengthening the Reporting of Menopause and Aging (STROMA) studies
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This paper reviews the methods used in cross-cultural studies of menopausal symptoms with the goal of formulating recommendations to facilitate comparisons of menopausal symptoms across cultures. It provides an overview of existing approaches and serves to introduce four separate reviews of vasomotor, psychological, somatic, and sexual symptoms at midlife. Building on an earlier review of cross-cultural studies of menopause covering time periods until 2004, these reviews are based on searches of Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Google Scholar for English-language articles published from 2004 to 2010 using the terms “cross cultural comparison” and “menopause.” Two major criteria were used: a study had to include more than one culture, country, or ethnic group and to have asked about actual menopausal symptom experience. We found considerable variation across studies in age ranges, symptom lists, reference period for symptom recall, variables included in multivariate analyses, and the measurement of factors (e.g., menopausal status and hormonal factors, demographic, anthropometric, mental/physical health, and lifestyle measures) that influence vasomotor, psychological, somatic and sexual symptoms. Based on these reviews, we make recommendations for future research regarding age range, symptom lists, reference/recall periods, and measurement of menopausal status. Recommendations specific to the cross-cultural study of vasomotor, psychological, somatic, and sexual symptoms are found in the four reviews that follow this introduction.
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