Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 619–622

Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Menopause: A Qualitative Analysis of Women’s Decision Making

  • Laura E. Hill-Sakurai
  • Jessica Muller
  • David H. Thom
Brief Report

Abstract

Background

While almost half of women use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) during their menopause, almost no literature explores why women choose CAM for menopausal symptoms. Clinician–patient conversations about CAM can be unsatisfactory, and exploration of women’s choices may benefit communication.

Objective

The objective of this study was to describe women’s choices to use CAM for menopausal health issues.

Design

This is a qualitative study utilizing semi-structured interviews.

Participants

Convenience sample of 44 menopausal women ages 45 to 60 recruited in two primary care clinics. Both users and non-users of CAM were included.

Approach

Transcripts of semi-structured interviews were analyzed for themes that were refined through comparison of labeled text.

Main results

Four themes emerged in decisions to use CAM: (1) valuing CAM as “natural”, although the meaning of “natural” varied greatly, (2) perceiving menopause as marking a change in life stage, (3) seeking information about menopause generated from personal intuition and other women’s experiences, and (4) describing experiences before menopause of using CAM and allopathic medication in patterns similar to current use (patterned responses).

Conclusion

Women’s decisions about using CAM during menopause can be understood through their perspectives on menopause and overall health. Increased clinician awareness of these themes may promote supportive discussions about CAM during counseling for menopause.

KEY WORDS

menopause complementary therapies decision-making 

Supplementary material

11606_2008_537_MOESM1_ESM.doc (36 kb)
Sample quotes illustrating themes associated with using complementary and alternative medicine for symptoms related to menopause. Italics have been used to note explanatory comments and questions by the researchers. Bold face has been used to clarify important sentences in a long quote (DOC 36 kb)

References

  1. 1.
    Upchurch DM, Chyu L. Use of complementary and alternative medicine among American women. Womens Health Issues. 2005;15(1)5–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bair YA, Gold EB, Greendale GA, et al. Ethnic differences in use of complementary and alternative medicine at midlife: longitudinal results from SWAN participants. Am J Public Health. 2002;92(11):1832–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Newton KM, Buist DS, Keenan NL, Anderson LA, LaCroix AZ. Use of alternative therapies for menopause symptoms: results of a population-based survey(1). Obstet Gynecol. 2002;100(1):18–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Seidl MM, Stewart DE. Alternative treatments for menopausal symptoms. Qualitative study of women’s experiences. Can Fam Physician. 1998;44:1271–6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Astin JA. Why patients use alternative medicine: results of a national study. JAMA. 1998;279(19):1548–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Singh H, Maskarinec G, Shumay DM. Understanding the motivation for conventional and complementary/alternative medicine use among men with prostate cancer. Integr Cancer Ther. 2005;4(2):187–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Boon H, Brown JB, Gavin A, Westlake K. Men with prostate cancer: making decisions about complementary/alternative medicine. Med Decis Making. 2003;23(6):471–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Adler S, Fosket JR. Disclosing complementary and alternative medicine use in the medical encounter: a qualitative study in women with breast cancer. J Fam Pract. 1999;48(6):453–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Eisenberg DM, Kessler RC, Van Rompay MI, et al. Perceptions about complementary therapies relative to conventional therapies among adults who use both: results from a national survey. Ann Intern Med. 2001;135(5):344–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Elder NC, Gillcrist A, Minz R. Use of alternative health care by family practice patients. Arch Fam Med. 1997;6(2):181–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kam IW, Dennehy CE, Tsourounis C. Dietary supplement use among menopausal women attending a San Francisco health conference. Menopause. 2002;9(1):72–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Corbin Winslow L, Shapiro H. Physicians want education about complementary and alternative medicine to enhance communication with their patients. Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(10):1176–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tasaki K, Maskarinec G, Shumay DM, Tatsumura Y, Kakai H. Communication between physicians and cancer patients about complementary and alternative medicine: exploring patients’ perspectives. Psychooncology. 2002;11(3):212–220.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gray RE, Fitch M, Greenberg M. A comparison of physician and patient perspectives on unconventional cancer therapies. Psychooncology. 1998;7(6):445–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Benner P. The tradition and skill of interpretative phenomenology in studying health, illness, and caring practice. In: Benner P, ed. Interpretive Phenomenology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 1994:99–127.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Van Manen M. Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. London, Ontario, Canada: State University of New York Press; 1990.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Miles M, Huberman A. Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook, 2nd ed.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 1994.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Denzin N, Denzin NK, Lincoln YS. Handbook of Qualitative Research. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 2000.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Adler SR, Fosket RJ, Kagawa-Singer M, et al. Conceptualizing menopause and midlife: Chinese American and Chinese women in the US. Maturitas. 2000;35(1):11–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    George SA. The menopause experience: a woman’s perspective. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2002;31(1):77–85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Adler SR. Complementary and alternative medicine use among women with breast cancer. Med Anthropol Q. 1999;13(2):214–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura E. Hill-Sakurai
    • 1
  • Jessica Muller
    • 1
    • 2
  • David H. Thom
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology, History and Social MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations