Date of Award

12-13-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Gerontology Institute

First Advisor

Dr. Candace Kemp

Second Advisor

Dr. Elisabeth Burgess

Third Advisor

Dr. Fayron Epps

Abstract

Perimenopause is a significant, transitional event in the life span of women. To date, most empirical research has focused on the experiences of middle-class Caucasian women, while the experiences of low-income black women have largely gone understudied. This qualitative study is one of few studies published in the past 20 years that investigates the perimenopausal experiences of low-income black women. I used an intersectionality framework to explore the lived experiences of eight low-income black women recruited from a large, urban city in the southeastern U.S. The main research question guiding the study was: How do low-income black women perceive and manage the menopause transition? Secondarily, the study investigated how this sample of participants interpreted and made meaning of their perimenopausal experiences in the larger context of aging. Digital audio recordings of face-to-face interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using N-Vivo 12. Based on an interpretative phenomenological approach, an iterative coding strategy produced five dominant themes: a lack of knowledge about menopause; a need for more information and resources from doctors; managing vasomotor symptoms, sleeplessness, and mood lability; an acceptance that menopause is a natural part of life; and positive views toward aging. Research findings have implications for healthcare and mental health practitioners tasked with addressing the health-related quality-of-life concerns of midlife minority women. Gerontologists studying reproductive aging issues in racially diverse populations will also glean important insights from this qualitative study (e.g., black women’s menopausal experiences are often embedded in a larger context of chronic health issues and health disparities).

Available for download on Thursday, November 12, 2020

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