“That was menopause, but I didn't know that” Understanding Family Systems of Menopause Knowledge among African American Women with Endometrial Cancer
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Objectives: Little is known regarding how African American families acquire and disseminate menopause knowledge. The objectives of this study were to describe how knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about menopause are shaped by family knowledge systems for African American women of postmenopausal age with endometrial cancer and identify opportunities to further shape menopause-related education throughout the reproductive life course for African American women. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of qualitative data from a larger study seeking to characterize the experiences of symptom onset and diagnosis of African American women who have been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. In-depth, qualitative interviews from thirteen African American women who received a diagnosis of endometrial cancer were examined using thematic analysis. Results: Three themes emerged from the data: family as an insufficient source of menopause knowledge, menopause knowledge gaps and resultant experiences, and confusion regarding early signs of endometrial cancer. When considering family systems of menopause knowledge among African American women with endometrial cancer, our results support that although family was a primary source of menopause knowledge, this knowledge was insufficient in quality. This resulted in a mismatch between menopause expectations and experiences and subsequent vulnerability to misinterpretation of early endometrial cancer symptoms. Discussion: African American families need greater access to comprehensive and culturally relevant education to successfully navigate menopause. To address the full spectrum of needs that arose in this study, our recommendations include creating menopause learning opportunities at the premenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal stages of a woman’s life coupled with opportunities to increase awareness of gynecologic cancer risk.
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