A national multiethnic online forum study on menopausal symptom experience.
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BACKGROUND: Little is known about how culture influences menopausal symptom experience, and few comparative qualitative studies have been conducted among multiethnic groups of midlife women in the United States. OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to explore commonalities and differences in menopausal symptom experience among four major ethnic groups in the United States (Whites, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians). METHODS: This was a secondary analysis of qualitative data from a larger national Internet-based study. The qualitative data from 90 middle-aged women in the United States who attended four ethnic-specific online forums of the larger study were examined using thematic analysis. RESULTS: The themes reflecting commonalities across the ethnic groups were just a part of life, trying to be optimistic, getting support, and more information needed. The themes reflecting the differences among the ethnic groups were open and closed, universal and unique, and controlling and minimizing. Overall, the findings indicated positive changes in women's menopausal symptom experience and supported the existence of cultural influences on women's menopausal symptom experience across the ethnic groups. DISCUSSION: Systematic efforts need to be made to empower midlife women in their management of menopausal symptoms.