C 06 SPECIAL SESSION: A Life Long Quest in Women's Health through Internet Research Methodology

Friday, 25 July 2014: 1:30 PM-2:45 PM
Description/Overview: This session presents Dr. Im’s program of research in women’s health and Internet research. Her beginning research question is presented with her former experience in oncology units and women’s health. Her history of developing her research program is presented with evolving research questions. Then, her most recently completed study on a Web-based multi-ethnic study on menopausal symptoms among four major ethnic groups of midlife women is presented with implications for future research. The study aimed to explore ethnic differences in menopausal symptom experience among four major ethnic groups in the U.S. (Whites, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians). The study was theoretically based on a feminist perspective. This cross-sectional study included two phases: (a) a quantitative national Internet survey and (b) four qualitative ethnic-specific online forums. The Internet survey was conducted among 512 midlife women using multiple instruments including questions on background characteristics and health and menopausal status and the Midlife Women’s Symptom Index. Four ethnic-specific online forums were conducted among 90 midlife women using 7 online forum topics. The Internet survey data were analyzed using multiple regression analyses and cluster analyses. The online forum data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings indicated that there were significant ethnic differences in the total number (F=12.71, p<0.01) and total severity (F=12.71, p<0.01) of menopausal symptoms and that the types of the most frequently reported symptoms differed by ethnicity. Across the ethnic groups, selected contextual factors including age, employment, income level, ethnicity (being Asians), smoking status, general health status, BMI, and menopausal status were significant factors associated with the total number (R2=.23, p<.01) and severity of symptoms (R2=.26, p<.01). Significant factors associated with the women’s menopausal symptoms were different by ethnic group. After comparing the menopausal symptom scores, a three-cluster solution was finally adopted (F=575.71, p<.01). Only in Cluster 1 (the low symptom group), there were significant ethnic differences in the scores of total symptoms and physical and psychosomatic symptoms, and in 7 individual symptoms. Four themes reflecting ethnic commonalities in the women’s menopausal symptom experience were extracted: (a) “Just a Part of Life”; (b) “Trying to be Optimistic”; (c) “Getting Support”; and (d) “More Information Needed.” Also, three themes reflecting ethnic differences in the women’s menopausal symptom experience were extracted: (a) “Open and Closed”; (b) “Universal and Unique”; and (c) “Controlling and Minimizing.” These findings in this national-scope study with an adequate number of ethnic minorities in each ethnic group confirmed those from existing studies in a small scale with a small number of ethnic minority women. The fact that “getting support” was found among all ethnic minority groups can be interpreted as a positive change for women’s health and well-being during the menopausal transition. These findings indicate that health care providers and researchers need to consider ethnic differences in symptoms experienced during the menopausal transition in their health care practice and research projects. Finally, ongoing studies and directions of Dr. Im’s future research will be presented.
Moderators:  Denise Cote-Arsenault, PhD, RNC, FAAN
Organizers:  Eun-Ok Im, RN, MPH, PhD, CNS, FAAN, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA