Good social support and reliable information are essential for women who find menopause an intense and life-altering experience, especially if they live in rural areas where health services are patchy or inaccessible. Thats the key finding from research published in the latest issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Researchers from a major health provider in Nova Scotia, a predominantly rural Canadian province where a large proportion of the population live in remote areas, found that menopausal women often had to look outside formal healthcare systems for information and support.
The researchers are suggesting that specially trained nurses and female community leaders could play a key role in building up local support networks and providing good quality information on menopause.
Women living in rural areas described a need to fully understand the often surprising intensity of menopause-related symptoms, including changes to their physical and mental well-being says Sheri L Price, a nurse researcher who specialises in womens health at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.
The women we interviewed described struggling to sift through excessive and conflicting medical information from a number of Internet and media sources and said they needed to receive accurate information from sources they trusted.
They said that menopause had a significant impact on their personal relationships and that the main way they coped with these changes was by having good peer support and a sense of humour.
Price, who led the research, points out that living in a rural environment can add extra pressures to coping with menopause. These can include geographical isolation, lack of confidentiality and anonymity, stress from multiple roles (including caring for ageing relatives), poverty and limited health care and support services she says.
When the researchers interviewed the 25 women, ranging from 43 years-old to their late 60s, they found that their findings fell into four main themes:
Scarce healthcare resources are a problem in rural areas and many of the women we spoke to struggled to get the medical information and support they needed, especially if they preferred to talk to a female doctor.
One solution may be for advanced practice nurses or nurse practitioners - who have received additional training in womens health - to offer holistic care and comprehensive support to rural women going through the menopause says Sheri Price. This would enhance the womens well-being as they go through menopause and enable them to optimise their health as they age.
Another option may be to train female community leaders to deliver local information sessions and help to set up support groups. Community leaders with personal menopausal experiences would also be able to offer further validation and support to women.
|Contact: Annette Whibley|
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.