Racial/ethnic disparities in the diagnosis and management of menopause symptoms among midlife women veterans

Menopause. 2022 Jul 1;29(7):877-882. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001978.

Abstract

Objective: Racial/ethnic disparities in menopause symptoms and hormone therapy management remain understudied among women served by the Veteran's Health Administration, despite the unique racial/ethnic diversity of this population. Thus, we determined racial/ethnic disparities in medical record-documented menopause symptoms and prescribed menopausal hormone therapy among women veterans.

Methods: We conducted cross-sectional analyses of national Veteran's Health Administration electronic health record data from 2014 to 2015. We used logistic regression models to compare medical-record documented menopause symptoms and treatment (eg, vaginal estrogen or systemic hormone therapy) by self-identified race/ethnicity, adjusting for age, body mass index, and depression. Models examining hormone treatment were adjusted for menopause symptoms.

Results: Among 200,901 women veterans (mean age 54.3, SD 5.4 y; 58% non-Hispanic/Latinx White, 33% non-Hispanic/Latinx Black, 4% Hispanic/Latinx, and 4% other), 5% had documented menopause symptoms, 5% were prescribed vaginal estrogen, and 5% were prescribed systemic hormone therapy. In fully adjusted multivariable models, non-Hispanic/Latinx Black women veterans had lower odds of documented menopause symptoms relative to non-Hispanic/Latinx White women (OR 0.82, 95% CI: 0.78-0.86). Moreover, non-Hispanic/Latinx Black women (OR 0.74, 95% CI: 0.70-0.77), as well as Hispanic/Latinx women (OR 0.68, 95% CI: 0.61-0.77), had lower likelihood of systemic hormone therapy prescription. Hispanic/Latinx women had higher odds of vaginal estrogen prescription (OR 1.12 95% CI: 1.02-1.24) than non-Hispanic/Latinx White women. Non-Hispanic/Latinx Black women had lower likelihood of estrogen use (OR 0.78 95% CI: 0.74-0.81) than non-Hispanic/Latinx White women.

Conclusion: Despite evidence suggesting higher menopause symptom burden among Black women in community samples, documented menopause symptoms and hormone therapy were less common among Black, compared with White, women veterans. Additionally, Hispanic/Latinx women veterans had lower odds of prescribed systemic menopause therapy and yet higher odds of prescribed vaginal estrogen, despite no difference in documented symptoms. These findings may signal important disparities in symptom reporting, documentation, and/or treatment for minority women veterans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • United States
  • Veterans*

Substances

  • Estrogens