Knowledge, Perceptions and Information about Hormone Therapy (HT) among Menopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Synthesis
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BACKGROUND: The use of hormone therapy (HT) by menopausal women has declined since the Women's Health Initiative randomized trial (WHI) in 2002 demonstrated important harms associated with long-term use. However, how this information has influenced women's knowledge and attitudes is uncertain. We aimed to evaluate the attitudes and perceptions towards HT use, as well as specific concerns and information sources on HT since the WHI trial. METHOD/RESULTS: We did a systematic review to assess the attitudes and knowledge towards HT in women, and estimate the magnitude of the issue by pooling across the studies. Using meta-synthesis methods, we reviewed qualitative studies and surveys and performed content analysis on the study reports. We pooled quantitative studies using a random-effects meta-analysis. We analyzed 11 qualitative studies (n = 566) and 27 quantitative studies (n = 39251). Positive views on HT included climacteric symptom control, prevention of osteoporosis and a perceived improvement in quality of life. Negative factors reported included concerns about potential harmful effects, particularly cancer risks. Sources of information included health providers, media, and social contact. By applying a meta-synthesis approach we demonstrate that these findings are broadly applicable across large groups of patients. CONCLUSIONS: Although there are clear hazards associated with long-term HT use, many women view HT favorably for climacteric symptom relief. Media, as a source of information, is often valued as equivalent to health providers.
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