Women's needs for CAM information to manage menopausal symptoms

G D Armitage, E Suter, M J Verhoef, C Bockmuehl, M Bobey
Climacteric: the Journal of the International Menopause Society 2007, 10 (3): 215-24

OBJECTIVE: To identify the information needs of women regarding complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment options to alleviate menopausal symptoms.

METHODS: Self-administered questionnaires were mailed to women responding to notices posted in family physicians' offices and a women's health center. Survey questions addressed preferred topics, formats and sources of information; experiences with information searching; and what signified good, trustworthy information.

RESULTS: The women in this study (n = 413) indicated several challenges including a lack of time to gather information, gaps in, and lack of, relevant information, and poor information quality. They expressed interest in information about the menopausal process, conventional and CAM treatment options, and the safety of treatments. Personal consultation with health-care professionals was the preferred way for obtaining information. The majority of women preferred evidence-based information but there was also a substantial number of women who chose to rely on 'softer' evidence such as personal accounts. These results suggested two different subgroups; however, the data indicate that these are not mutually exclusive since many respondents showed a preference for both types of information.

CONCLUSIONS: Women feel they are not sufficiently informed to make safe decisions regarding CAM treatment options to alleviate menopausal symptoms. Family physicians are a trusted information source and have an important role in providing women with that information. Brochures containing evidence-based information and a list of newsletters or books that include personal accounts, available in physician's offices and during personal consultations at women's health centers, are offered as a possible solution. A website is another possibility for distributing this information.

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