Methods used in cross-cultural comparisons of vasomotor symptoms and their determinants
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Methodological differences among studies of vasomotor symptoms limit rigorous comparison or systematic review. Vasomotor symptoms generally include hot flushes and night sweats although other associated symptoms exist. Prevalence rates vary between and within populations, but different studies collect data on frequency, bothersomeness, and/or severity using different outcome measures and scales, making comparisons difficult. We reviewed only cross-cultural studies of menopausal symptoms that explicitly examined symptoms in general populations of women in different countries or different ethnic groups in the same country. This resulted in the inclusion of nine studies: Australian/Japanese Midlife Women's Health Study (AJMWHS), Decisions At Menopause Study (DAMeS), Four Major Ethnic Groups (FMEG), Hilo Women's Health Survey (HWHS), Mid-Aged Health in Women from the Indian Subcontinent (MAHWIS), Penn Ovarian Aging Study (POAS), Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN), Women's Health in Midlife National Study (WHiMNS), and Women's International Study of Health and Sexuality (WISHeS). These studies highlight the methodological challenges involved in conducting multi-population studies, particularly when languages differ, but also highlight the importance of performing multivariate and factor analyses. Significant cultural differences in one or more vasomotor symptoms were observed in 8 of 9 studies, and symptoms were influenced by the following determinants: menopausal status, hormones (and variance), age (or actually, the square of age, age2), BMI, depression, anxiety, poor physical health, perceived stress, lifestyle factors (hormone therapy use, smoking and exposure to passive smoke), and acculturation (in immigrant populations). Recommendations are made to improve methodological rigor and facilitate comparisons in future cross-cultural menopause studies.
Clinical Sciences not elsewhere classified