Managing Menopause: An Ethnographic Study of Women's Midlife Information-Seeking and Decision-Making in the Southwest U.S.

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/194960
Title:
Managing Menopause: An Ethnographic Study of Women's Midlife Information-Seeking and Decision-Making in the Southwest U.S.
Author:
Thompson, Jennifer Jo
Issue Date:
2010
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
In this dissertation, I look to contemporary menopause management in the Southwest, United States, as an ideal case study of the 'real world' negotiation of a widespread contemporary conundrum--characterized by discourses of risk, proliferation of information and choice, chronic doubt, and personal responsibility for decision-making. While there have been previous studies of menopause in the US, this circumstantial ethnography seeks to understand contemporary menopause management in an era characterized by a massive shift in the biomedical risk discourses about menopause, the explosion of therapeutic choice in a burgeoning pluralistic health care environment, and the broad expansion of women's identities, body projects, and life priorities over the last several decades.I report on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2007 and 2008 with menopausal women and health care providers in the southwestern US. Research components included ethnographic interviews (N=60) and focus groups (6 groups with 27 participants) with midlife women, interviews with health care providers across a range of therapeutic modalities (N=20), and observation of emerging discourses of menopause in science, media and marketing.This dissertation illustrates that contemporary menopause management is a recursive process characterized by the ongoing re-evaluation of the impact menopause is having on one's life--in context. Participants described the unfolding of the lived-experience of menopause over time--even years beyond the end of menstruation. Risk discourses are not embodied en masse but reflect the concerns most salient in women's lives. While women access various expert and lay resources, they favor personal experts--sources deemed professionally sound and personally relevant--and their own embodied knowledge. For their part, health care providers described themselves as "normalizing" menopause and practicing patient-centered care aimed at empowering women to make their own decisions about how to manage menopause. Lacking an ideal choice, women make provisional treatment decisions that resonate with their current menopausal subjectivity. Despite abundant options, menopause management is increasingly stratified, with some able to access more information resources and afford more extensive decision-support. Among women with severe symptoms, bioidentical hormone therapy--productively positioned between biomedicine and complementary/alternative medicine--has emerged as a popular harm reduction strategy.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
complementary/alternative medicine; decision-making; embodiment; information; menopause; risk subjectivity
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Anthropology; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Nichter, Mark

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleManaging Menopause: An Ethnographic Study of Women's Midlife Information-Seeking and Decision-Making in the Southwest U.S.en_US
dc.creatorThompson, Jennifer Joen_US
dc.contributor.authorThompson, Jennifer Joen_US
dc.date.issued2010en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractIn this dissertation, I look to contemporary menopause management in the Southwest, United States, as an ideal case study of the 'real world' negotiation of a widespread contemporary conundrum--characterized by discourses of risk, proliferation of information and choice, chronic doubt, and personal responsibility for decision-making. While there have been previous studies of menopause in the US, this circumstantial ethnography seeks to understand contemporary menopause management in an era characterized by a massive shift in the biomedical risk discourses about menopause, the explosion of therapeutic choice in a burgeoning pluralistic health care environment, and the broad expansion of women's identities, body projects, and life priorities over the last several decades.I report on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2007 and 2008 with menopausal women and health care providers in the southwestern US. Research components included ethnographic interviews (N=60) and focus groups (6 groups with 27 participants) with midlife women, interviews with health care providers across a range of therapeutic modalities (N=20), and observation of emerging discourses of menopause in science, media and marketing.This dissertation illustrates that contemporary menopause management is a recursive process characterized by the ongoing re-evaluation of the impact menopause is having on one's life--in context. Participants described the unfolding of the lived-experience of menopause over time--even years beyond the end of menstruation. Risk discourses are not embodied en masse but reflect the concerns most salient in women's lives. While women access various expert and lay resources, they favor personal experts--sources deemed professionally sound and personally relevant--and their own embodied knowledge. For their part, health care providers described themselves as "normalizing" menopause and practicing patient-centered care aimed at empowering women to make their own decisions about how to manage menopause. Lacking an ideal choice, women make provisional treatment decisions that resonate with their current menopausal subjectivity. Despite abundant options, menopause management is increasingly stratified, with some able to access more information resources and afford more extensive decision-support. Among women with severe symptoms, bioidentical hormone therapy--productively positioned between biomedicine and complementary/alternative medicine--has emerged as a popular harm reduction strategy.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectcomplementary/alternative medicineen_US
dc.subjectdecision-makingen_US
dc.subjectembodimenten_US
dc.subjectinformationen_US
dc.subjectmenopauseen_US
dc.subjectrisk subjectivityen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineAnthropologyen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorNichter, Marken_US
dc.contributor.committeememberPike, Ivyen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberRitenbaugh, Cherylen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberShaw, Susanen_US
dc.identifier.proquest11099en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659755040en_US
All Items in UA Campus Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.