Objective: The purpose of this study was to address (1) the existence of an association between menopausal status and the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in Australian and Japanese women and (2) the relative contributions of menopausal status, modifiable lifestyle risk factors, health, and sociodemographic factors on HRQOL.
Design: The Australian and Japanese Midlife Women's Health Study (AJMWHS) was a multisite, population-based study conducted in 2001 to 2002. Measures were conducted on data collected from a survey questionnaire used for a sample of women from Australia and Japan. HRQOL was assessed with seven subscales from the Short Form-36.
Results: The differences seen in physical functioning, general health, and vitality are significant. The results support an effect of country of residence on physical functioning and general health. The impact of menopausal status on HRQOL was significantly associated with bodily pain and role-emotional. The country of residence did have a modifying effect on the relationship between menopausal status and physical functioning. After control for confounders, there was a significant difference between Australian and Japanese women for HRQOL. Menopausal status was not associated with HRQOL in the areas of general health and physical functioning. Modifiable lifestyle risk factors contributed more highly to HRQOL for the Australian women than for the Japanese women. If the women had a lowered body mass index, undertook physical activity, consumed dietary phytoestrogens, and used alcohol, their physical functioning seemed to be better. Differences were seen in the contributions to HRQOL in these areas, with lower body mass index in the Australian women and physical activity in the Japanese women being the highest predictors. Somatic and psychological symptoms seem to negatively affect both Japanese and Australian women's physical functioning, contributing more than sociodemographic factors, menopausal status, and behavioral determinants combined to general health and physical functioning.
Conclusions: It is important that that consideration be given to incorporating the same tool within the cross-cultural design of studies so that comparisons between cultures and patterns of healthy aging can be made. The research suggests that there seems to be variations across Australian and Japanese midlife women in some areas of HRQOL and some factors that contribute to these areas.