Objectives: There is an assumption in menopause research that attitudes to menopause are influenced by a range of cultural, social and psychological variables, which may in turn affect menopausal experience and symptom reporting. However, many studies draw conclusions about this relationship without explicitly examining the empirical evidence. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review is to examine the relationship between attitudes towards menopause and symptom experience using original research studies.
Methods: Computerised literature searches were performed with Medline, Web of Knowledge and PubMed databases using 'menopause' and 'attitudes' as the main search terms. Studies were considered if they included a measure of attitude and a measure of menopausal symptoms, if they were original research studies, and if they examined and reported on the relationship between women's attitudes to menopause and their symptom experience.
Results: Thirteen studies were included in the review, 1 longitudinal, prospective study and 12 cross-sectional studies. The results of 10 studies supported the view that women with more negative attitudes towards the menopause report more symptoms during this transition and 3 studies found no significant association between these variables.
Conclusion: Women with more negative attitudes towards the menopause in general report more symptoms during the menopausal transition. However, use of standardised culturally sensitive attitude, and specific symptom, measures are recommended in future prospective studies.