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Men and women's perceptions of hot flushes within social situations: Are menopausal women's negative beliefs valid?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57 - 62
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

King's Authors


Objectives: Menopause is generally associated with negative social meanings in western cultures. While numerous physical and emotional symptoms have been attributed to it, hot flushes and night sweats (HF/NS) are the main physical change. Recent studies suggest that cognitive factors, particularly beliefs about other people's reactions to their HF/NS, might increase distress, causing embarrassment and behavioural avoidance. Younger men and women tend to have more negative attitudes to menopause but research is needed to establish whether menopausal women's beliefs are grounded in evidence or are overly negative cognitions. Methods: 290 men and women (aged 25-45 years) participated in a questionnaire survey, including both qualitative and quantitative data. Participants answered open-ended questions about their attributions and reactions to a hypothetical scenario of a woman displaying hot flush symptoms and completed a modified version of the Menopause Representations Questionnaire (MRQ) to assess beliefs about menopause. Results: A wide range of attributions and responses were evident. The majority of participants did not attribute redness and sweating to the menopause; similarly mainly neutral and positive responses were expressed. However, this younger sample had significantly more negative beliefs about menopause (MRQ) compared to a sample of menopausal women and women identified more symptoms as being due to the menopause than men. No age differences were evident. Conclusions: These findings suggest that women's beliefs about 'other people's' reactions are unduly negative. This evidence can be used in cognitive behavioural interventions to help women to challenge these beliefs and behaviours that exacerbate distress. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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