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Attitudes Toward Menopause and Aging Across Ethnic/Racial Groups

Sommer, Barbara PhD; Avis, Nancy PhD; Meyer, Peter PhD; Ory, Marcia PhD; Madden, Tom MD; Kagawa-Singer, Marjorie PhD; Mouton, Charles MD; Rasor, Niki O’Neill MA; Adler, Shelley PhD

Original Articles

Objective: Attitudes have a potential role to play in the experience of menopause. The objective of this study was to examine the degree to which attitudes toward menopause and aging vary across ethnic groups and menopausal status (ie, premenopausal through postmenopausal).

Methods: More than 16,000 women were interviewed by telephone as part of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. They represented five ethnic/racial groups (African American, white, Chinese American, Japanese American, and Hispanic) from seven geographical sites (Boston, MA; Pittsburgh, PA; Chicago, IL; Michigan; New Jersey; and northern and southern California).

Results: African American women were significantly more positive in attitude. The least positive groups were the less acculturated Chinese American and Japanese American women. Menopausal status was not a consistent predictor of attitude across ethnic groups.

Conclusions: In general, women’s attitudes toward menopause range from neutral to positive. Ethnic groups within the United States vary slightly, but reliably, in their attitudes toward menopause and aging. Factors other than those directly associated with menopausal status seem to play a role in attitude.

From the Departments of Psychology (B.S.) and Epidemiology/Preventive Medicine (N.O.R.), University of California, Davis, Davis, CA; New England Research Institutes (N.A., Boston, MA); Department of Preventive Medicine (P.M., T.M.), Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, IL; Behavioral and Social Research Program (M.O.), National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD; School of Public Health and Department of Asian American Studies (M.K.-S.), University of California, Los Angeles, CA; Department of Family Practice (C.M.), University of Texas Health Center, San Antonio, TX; and Department of Medical Anthropology (S.A.), University of California, San Francisco, CA.

Received for publication March 31, 1999;

revision received July 2, 1999

Address reprint requests to: Barbara Sommer, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616-8686. Email:

Copyright © 1999 by American Psychosomatic Society
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