Body Politics of Bone Mineral Density Screening Experiences Among Taiwanese Menopausal Women

Monday, July 11, 2011: 1:45 PM

Zxyyann Lu, PhD
Institute of Clinical & Community Health Nursing, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
Kuei-Hua Wu, MS
Min-Hwei College of Health Care Management, Tainan County, Taiwan

Learning Objective 1: The learners will be able to identify cultural factors influence menopausal women's practice against aging in Taiwan

Learning Objective 2: The learners will be able to understand how the bodily experiences related to screening technology shape body image among Taiwanese menopausal women.


The menopausal women has been the major risk population of osteoporosis, and the bone mineral density screening (BMD screening) has been a popular health services in Taiwan, while the Quantitative Ultrasound(QUS) has been the most common surveillance technology used in the community-based health services. However, the controversy about the QUS remains due to its low sensitivity and specificity. The purpose of this study attempts to explore, (1) How do menopausal women perceive the QUS as a risk surveillance technology for bone density in Taiwan? (2) What are menopausal women’s bodily experience undergoing BMD screening? (3) What body image is shaped by the BMD screening practice?


The study applied ethnographic approach and ethnographic interviews and participant observation were used in Taipei city and Taipei county from February 2009 to the end of April 2010. The procedure of the BMD screening practice and the interaction between the nurses and the women were observed and recorded. The total of sixteen women aged from 45- 60 were interviewed. In addition, newspaper articles about BMD screening dated January 2009 to the end of June were extrapolated in order to understand the public discourse of osteoporosis in relation to menopause. The constant comparison method was used to analyze data.


The results showed that women’s bodily experience interweaved with perceived brittle bone. While BMD technology enables the visibility of bones, the unstable readings of screening create uncertainty toward bone health. Participation in the BMD screening transformed women into active role in taking calcium-rich foods and herbs for bone health as well as in maintaining independent against aging.


The understanding of the complex relationships among the QUS, the culture context, and the women’s health is essential and community nurses should be culturally sensitive while menopausal women worried about being dependent.