Open in a separate window Discussion Until recently, researchers consistently reported that the menopausal symptom experience of Asian women tended to be mild and uncomplicated compared to women in other ethnic groups Sheehy, ; Brody, ; Berger, However, recent reports have reported specific sub-ethnic variations in the menopausal symptom experience of Asian women Haines et al.
The findings in this study strongly suggest that there are sub-ethnic differences in the menopausal symptom experience of Asian women: The Asian American population is not homogeneous, consisting of at least 30 different sub-ethnic groups U.
Furthermore, each sub-ethnic group can be divided into multiple sub-groups e. Thus, considering that the menopausal symptom experience is highly influenced by cultural attitudes toward menopause and menopausal symptoms Lock, et al. Interestingly, the findings of this study indicated that the menopausal symptom experience of Filipino women was significantly different from that of Korean and Chinese women, which disagrees somewhat with the findings of previous studies. However, the similarities in the menopausal symptom experience of Korean and Chinese women observed in this study are consistent with the findings of previous studies.
Chang and Zhan reported that Chinese women usually gave little attention to menopause, which is reportedly also true of Korean women Im, Chang and Zhan reported that Chinese women appeared to exhibit fewer menopausal symptoms, which may be partly attributable to their reluctance to discuss their sex-related symptoms and self-treatment of symptoms.
Im reported that Korean women had fewer menopausal symptoms than Chinese women, but similar attitudes towards menopausal symptoms, as Chinese women. The differences in the menopausal symptom experiences of Filipino and Chinese women and of Filipino and Korean women, however, are not consistent with the findings of some previous studies. Filipino women reportedly had positive attitudes toward menopause and the severity of their menopausal symptoms tended to be minimal to mild.
However, the specific differences about the influences of cultural background on menopausal symptom experience in Asian sub-ethnic groups are not reported in the literature. However, in most cases in this study, sub-ethnicity referred to country of origin only and not regional, tribal, or dialectic background because we did not collect this information in the larger study.
Thus, our classification of women into Asian sub-ethnic groups, not by more refined subgroups within these major sub-ethnic groups, may be a major limitation of the study. Another limitation of this study is that only a small number of women in some of the Asian American sub-ethnic groups participated in the study. Because the sample size for this study was pre-determined by the larger study, the findings in this paper should be considered preliminary and need further confirmation.
In addition, the limitations of this study include potential selection bias because participants were recruited via the Internet and data were collected on the Internet. In general, Asian Americans have higher incomes than other ethnic groups in the U.
Therefore, the findings presented in this paper may not adequately reflect the menopausal symptom experiences of Asian American women from lower socioeconomic classes. Furthermore, because of the small sample size for some sub-ethnic groups, we could not conduct a more sophisticated statistical analysis that controlled other mediating factors e.
Conclusions and Implications The findings presented in this paper strongly suggest that there are sub-ethnic differences in the menopausal symptom experiences among sub-groups of Asian American women.
Some of the findings are consistent with those of previous studies; others are not. As discussed above, these findings may stem from the unique cultural backgrounds within each of the major Asian American ethnic groups, and may not be easily generalizable to other Asian American women, especially those with low socioeconomic status.
Based on the findings of this study, we conclude this paper with the following implications for future research and nursing practice with Asian American midlife women.
First, we suggest that further in-depth studies should be conducted on the sub-ethnic variations in the menopausal symptom experiences of a large number of Asian American women from diverse sub-ethnic groups. Because of the lack of information on sub-ethnic differences in menopausal symptoms and the inconsistent findings of previous studies, we could not adequately compare our findings with those of previous studies. More in-depth studies on the sub-ethnic differences in the menopausal symptom experiences of a diversity of Asian American women would help achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the menopausal symptom experiences of Asian American women.
Second, we also suggest that researchers and clinicians be aware of the sub-ethnic differences in the menopausal symptom experiences of Asian American women.
Asian American women tend to be clumped into one homogenous group, despite a great degree of sub-ethnic diversity U. In fact, Asian Americans are comprised of at least 30 sub-ethnic groups, each with different cultural attitudes and beliefs about menopause and menopausal symptoms U.
Thus, researchers and clinicians should not minimize their menopausal symptom experience. Rather, researchers and clinicians should respect this diversity when providing health care for Asian American women.
By conducting studies in Asian American women from a diversity of socioeconomic groups, and controlling for that socioeconomic diversity, we might better understand the sub-ethnic differences in menopausal symptoms.
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