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Sociodemographic Characteristics, Biological Factors, and Symptom Reporting in Midlife Women

Wilbur, JoEllen; Miller, Arlene Michaels; Montgomery, Andrew; Chandler, Peggy

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Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of Sociodemographic characteristics, reproductive hormones, and body composition on symptoms reported by generally well midlife women.

Design: The design was a 24-cell, randomly selected quota sample, stratified by four occupations that varied in professional status, two races, and three age groups. One hundred fifty-three women, aged 35 to 69, who worked 20 or more hours a week, who were not on hormone replacement therapy, who were not pregnant, and who did not have a hysterectomy prior to the age of 53 participated in the study. Data were collected at 10 employment sites. Symptoms were assessed by a 22-item symptom index. Serum hormone levels of estradiol and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) were drawn for each woman, and body composition was assessed by body mass index (BMI).

Results: Chi-square tests showed that significantly more White women than Black women experienced nervous tension, loss of urine, and vaginal dryness. Analyses of variance showed that women experiencing hot flashes had significantly higher FSH levels, lower estradiol levels, and higher BMI than women not experiencing this symptom. Estradiol (odds ratio 0.988) and BMI (odds ratio 1.094) were significant predictors of experiencing hot flashes when entered into a stepwise logistic regression with age and FSH level as covariates.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that symptoms experienced by midlife women are consistent across races, and that interventions targeting weight reduction may improve hot flashes experienced by midlife women.

(C)1998The North American Menopause Society

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