Background: Negative premenstrual change can result in distress for a significant proportion of women. Previous research has suggested that women employ a range of coping strategies and behaviours in order to manage and reduce premenstrual distress. However, as yet there has been no specific scale available to measure premenstrual coping. This research aimed to develop and validate a measure of premenstrual coping which can be used in future investigations of negative premenstrual experience.
Methods: A sample of 250 women living in Australia, reporting mild to severe premenstrual distress, completed an online survey containing 64 items related to premenstrual coping. The items were generated by reviewing past literature related to premenstrual experience, in particular recent qualitative research on premenstrual coping. A principal components factor analysis with varimax rotation was conducted to determine item clusters that would form a measure. Reliability and validity were tested using calculations of Cronbach alphas, correlational analysis with psychological coping scales and a content analysis of participant reports of coping strategies.
Results: The factor analysis, which involved two principal component analyses, resulted in five factors containing 32 premenstrual coping behaviours. Interpretation of the factor solution drew on empirical and theoretical accounts of premenstrual coping and the emergent factors were labelled Avoiding Harm, Awareness and Acceptance of Premenstrual Change, Adjusting Energy, Self-Care, and Communicating. These factors form the subscales of the Premenstrual Coping Measure (PMCM). The subscales demonstrated acceptable to very good reliability and tests of construct, concurrent and content validity were supportive of sound validity.
Conclusions: The PMCM provides a valid and reliable scale for quantifying ways of coping specific to negative premenstrual change. Conceptual similarity was found between some coping behaviours and behaviours positioned as symptoms of premenstrual change. Explanations for this overlap may be found in cultural discourses associated with idealised femininity and PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Further psychometric investigation of the PMCM will enhance knowledge of the role of coping with negative premenstrual experience.