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doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318168f09b

Beyond frequency: who is most bothered by vasomotor symptoms?

Thurston, Rebecca C. PhD1,4; Bromberger, Joyce T. PhD4; Joffe, Hadine MD, MSc5; Avis, Nancy E. PhD6; Hess, Rachel MD, MSc2,5; Crandall, Carolyn J. MD, MS7; Chang, Yuefang PhD3; Green, Robin PsyD2,8; Matthews, Karen A. PhD1,4

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Objective: Most menopausal women report vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats). However, not all women with vasomotor symptoms, including frequent symptoms, are bothered by them. The primary aim was to identify correlates of vasomotor symptom bother beyond symptom frequency.

Design: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation participants reporting vasomotor symptoms at annual visit 7 comprised the sample (N = 1,042). Assessments included hot flash and night sweats frequency (number per week) and bother (1, not at all- 4, very much). Negative affect (index of depressive symptoms, anxiety, perceived stress, negative mood), symptom sensitivity, sleep problems, and vasomotor symptom duration (number of years) were examined cross-sectionally in relation to bother in ordinal logistic regression models with symptom frequency and covariates. Hot flashes and night sweats were considered separately.

Results: In multivariable models controlling for hot flash frequency, negative affect (odds ratio [OR] = 1.27, 95% CI: 1.08-1.51), symptom sensitivity (OR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.03-1.37), sleep problems (OR = 1.38, 95% CI: 1.04-1.85), poorer health (OR = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.03-1.48), duration of hot flashes (OR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.06-1.23), younger age (OR = 0.94, 95% CI: 0.89-0.99), and African American race (vs white, OR = 1.59, 95% CI: 1.12-2.26) were associated with hot flash bother. After controlling for night sweats frequency and covariates, sleep problems (OR = 1.84, 95% CI:1.33-2.55) and night sweats duration (OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.02-1.20) were associated with night sweats bother.

Conclusions: Beyond frequency, factors associated with bothersome hot flashes include mood, symptom sensitivity, symptom duration, sleep problems, age, and race. Correlates of bothersome night sweats include sleep problems and symptom duration. In addition to reducing frequency, interventions for vasomotor symptoms might consider addressing modifiable factors related to symptom bother.

©2008The North American Menopause Society


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