Chinese and Indian women’s experience with alternative medications for menopause related symptoms: A qualitative analysis
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To explore women’s rationalization for using alternative medications, their experience and view on safety of long-term use.
Two focus group discussions, involving 5 participants each for Chinese and Indian groups, were conducted separately. Participant’s personal information was collected anonymously. The discussion covered 5 areas: determinants for taking medications; reason for choosing alternative medications rather than hormone replacement therapy (HRT); how these medications help them; their view on cost-effectiveness and concerns over long-term use. The discussions were audio-taped, transcribed and analyzed.
Chinese participants took supplements for controlling symptoms while Indian participants used herbs as a preventive measure during menopause according to their tradition. Women of both groups mentioned that they did not take HRT because of fear of side effects. Chinese group mentioned that medications remarkably improved their symptoms whereas Indian participants appreciated their herbals more for improvement in general wellbeing than for specific symptoms. All members agreed that using alternative medication was cost-effective. Both Chinese and Indian participants were quite confident in saying that long-term use will not be associated with any side effects. However, Indian group emphasized that proper preparation of herbal compound using different types of leaves, is essential in order to avoid untoward effects.
Chinese and Indian women used alternative medicine in prevention and treatment of menopause-related problems even as they were avoiding HRT because of the fear of side effects. They believed that their supplements were effective, safe and cost-beneficial even with long-term use.
Keywordsalternative medications Chinese Indian experience menopause-related symptoms qualitative study
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The authors would like to sincerely thank all Chinese and Indian participants who actively participated and honestly expressed their opinions during the discussions.
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