Differences between assessing menopausal symptoms in terms of frequency and intensity: conclusions from the Menopause Symptoms’ Severity Inventory (MSSI-38)
Prof. Filipa Pimenta
9 slide(s) – English – 2012-03-28
Objective: Most menopause-related instruments assess either frequency or intensity of symptoms. This study aims to explore if there are differences in assessing menopausal symptoms in terms of frequency and intensity.
Method: It was developed a new instrument (Menopause Symptoms’ Severity Inventory, MSSI-38) based on interviews with menopausal women, health technicians, literature review and previous questionnaires (Pimenta et al., 2011). This 38-items instrument assesses 12 sets of symptoms (anxiety; depressive mood; cognitive impairment; vasomotor symptoms; numbness; mouth, nails and hair changes; perceived loss of control; sexual symptoms; aches and pain; body shape changes; skin and facial hair changes; and urinary symptoms) both in terms of frequency (how many times) and intensity (how strong). This inventory was validated in a community sample of 710 Portuguese middle-aged women in peri- and post-menopause; menopausal status was determined using STRAW criteria (Soules et al., 2001). To assert if the frequency was significantly different from the intensity measurement, every item’s (symptoms) frequency and intensity were compared with the Wilcoxon test for paired samples.
Results: The MSSI-38 presented construct, criterion and external validity, as well as a good reliability and sensitivity. The Wilcoxon test showed that thirty of the thirty-eight symptoms evidenced statistically significant differences between their frequency and intensity measurements. Moreover, the symptoms’ frequency assessment showed higher means when compared with intensity.
Conclusion: Measuring frequency and intensity of menopausal symptoms is significantly different and instruments assessing symptomatology in terms of frequency might be presenting higher scores than the ones measuring the intensity of menopausal symptoms.