Assessing young adults’ menopause knowledge to increase understanding of symptoms and help improve quality of life for women going through menopause; a student survey.
Introduction: Due to menopause being a largely invisible and under-discussed topic in wider society, women often deal with menopause-related complications on their own. Social support and education have been shown to reduce negative menopausal experiences and improve quality of life; however, lack of menopause knowledge particularly among younger people may deter support for women suffering from menopause symptoms. This study aims to assess the level of knowledge young adults have on menopause to be able to create interventions that target knowledge gaps and increase understanding of women’s experiences and difficulties during their menopause transition. Methods: We created an electronic questionnaire based on menopause literature and guidelines from Menopause Societies (IMS and NAMS). It was pilot tested on menopause clinicians (n=5), young people of target group age (n=14; 7 male and 7 female) and women experiencing menopause (n=4) to collect feedback. The final survey included questions on participant demographics, general menopause knowledge, and options to support menopause management. A knowledge self-assessment scale was provided at the beginning and the end of the survey. A nine-point scoring system of evidence-based questions was also created to compare menopause knowledge between groups. The questionnaire was distributed to University of Alberta students through student digest newsletters; answers over a two-week period were collected anonymously in the secure web-based application REDCap. Descriptive statistics were applied to characterize participants, define menopause knowledge, and identify gaps. Results: Survey responses were collected from 828 (76 graduate and 752 undergraduate) students; the average age was 22.1±5.1 and 83.6% were female. Participants belonged to all faculties and included students from a variety of family settings and living conditions. While most students had a good understanding of the basic menopause physiology, knowledge was not consistent and there were gaps in understanding of symptoms and management. There was a significant difference in menopause knowledge between the sexes (Х2 (1, N = 780) = 11.9, p = .02); females demonstrated higher knowledge levels than males. There was also a significant difference (Х2 (1, N = 787) = 15.7, p = .003) in menopause knowledge between those who had close contact with a woman in the menopause stage and those who did not. Both males and females reported increased knowledge confidence at the end of the survey; on average females reported higher levels of confidence than males. Conclusion: Our results indicate gender, as well as a personal connection to menopausal women, affect the degree of menopause knowledge in young adults. We also found that young adults have a general baseline knowledge of menopause and its symptoms, and are open to learning strategies to help support these women. Our findings will assist in developing targeted educational resources to increase social support and awareness in a cost-effective and sustainable manner, reducing stigma and mitigating complications, improving the quality of life in menopausal women and helping prepare younger women for their future menopausal journey.