An Online Forum on Menopausal Symptom Experience

Thursday, 10 July 2008: 1:15 PM
Eun-Ok Im, RN, MPH, PhD, CNS, FAAN , School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Yi Liu, MSN, RN , Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
Sharon Dormire, RN, CNS, PhD , School of Nursing, The University of Texas, Austin, TX
Wonshik Chee, PhD , Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Learning Objective 1: Understand White women's menopausal symptom experience from their own perspective.

Learning Objective 2: Understand the research process involved in an online forum as a qualitative research method.

Despite a large number of studies on menopausal symptom experience, the studies have rarely used designs that incorporate women's own descriptions or voices regarding their experiences. Consequently, little is known about how women themselves perceive menopausal symptom experience even in the well-studied population of white women in the menopause transition. The purpose of the study was to explore menopausal symptom experience of White midlife women from a feminist perspective using an online forum. Online forums have been reported to provide a more comfortable forum for some people to discuss sensitive personal health issues, and suggested as a feasible alternative to traditional face-to-face focus groups

The study was a qualitative online forum study among 23 White midlife women in the U.S. The women were recruited through Internet communities/groups for midlife women using a convenience sampling method. Seven online forum topics on the menopausal symptom experience were used for data collection. Then, data were analyzed using descriptive content and thematic analysis.

Four themes emerged through this process. First, the experience of menopause caused women to re-think about their lives and themselves within their busy daily life schedules. Second, most of the women tried to be humorous and laugh at the experience to boost their inner strength and motivate themselves persevere. Third, some women thought that menopausal symptoms were universal while others thought that there would be certain cultural and ethnic differences in the expression of menopausal symptoms. Fourth, in seeking assistance with the symptoms of menopause, women were not satisfied with the guidance of their physicians. Women thought that their physicians rushed into a decision for treatment without listening to what they were reporting.

The findings suggest some implications for future research and health care practices. The findings also support that online forums are an excellent data collection method for qualitative research.