Relationships between catastrophic thoughts, perceived control and distress during menopausal hot flushes: Exploring the correlates of a questionnaire measure

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Abstract

Objectives: Many studies have established that highly negative or catastrophic thoughts about chronic health problems such as pain are associated with greater distress, lower self-efficacy for dealing with the problem and depressed mood. This study examined whether highly negative (or 'catastrophic') appraisals of hot flush experiences were associated with greater distress and lower perceived control regarding this menopausal problem. Design: A postal survey was carried out, with a follow-up 12 months later. Methods: Two questionnaires were initially completed by a volunteer sample of 61 women currently experiencing hot flushes. A mixture of qualitative and quantitative data were collected, including a Catastrophic Thoughts Questionnaire (CTQ) measure of catastrophic thoughts, based in part on Rosenstiel AK and Keefe FJ. The use of coping strategies in chronic low back pain patients: relationship to patient characteristics and current adjustment. Pain 1983;17:33-44. Thirty nine women who continued to report hot flushes were followed up 12 months later. Results: Ratings to each item of the CTQ were highly intercorrelated. Women reporting more catastrophic thoughts tended to be lower in perceived control over flushes. Respondents' reported distress during hot flushes was more closely related to their frequency of negative thoughts about the problem, than to perceived control, flush chronicity or daily frequency of flushes. Over 12 months, respondents showed a highly stable pattern of catastrophic thoughts, and continued links with levels of distress during flush episodes. Conclusions: Cognitive appraisal processes that undermine coping with other chronic health problems seem also relevant to understanding the distress triggered by intermittent, unpredictable flush episodes. The findings imply that women may develop improved tolerance for menopausal flushing through challenging negative interpretations of the experience. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

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Reynolds, F. (2000). Relationships between catastrophic thoughts, perceived control and distress during menopausal hot flushes: Exploring the correlates of a questionnaire measure. Maturitas, 36(2), 113–122. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-5122(00)00142-0

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