EEAST Research Menopause Survey Results

Menopause

The recent Trust menopause survey was developed to understand menopausal symptoms and their impact for EEAST female staff.

An amazing 522 responses (representing 22% of the female workforce) were received from all areas of the Trust, which were analysed using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The findings have been submitted to the 999 Emergency Research Forum 2020 for presentation and publication, and the research team, in collaboration with EEAST’s Health and Wellbeing team, are now preparing a research funding proposal to continue this work further.

• Typically survey respondents were either pre-menopausal (33%) or peri-menopausal (24%). Approximately one third (31%) were menopausal or post-menopausal.

• Over half worked in operational emergency service delivery (58%), and typically worked shifts/unsocial hours (75%).

• For those who had experienced menopause symptoms (64%), wide-ranging symptoms were reported: tiredness/low energy levels, difficulty sleeping/insomnia, mood changes (including anxiety and depression), musculoskeletal problems, and hot flushes and/or night sweats were most common.

• The majority (61%) stated they had not expected the symptoms they experienced, which had impacted on their well-being (51%); work life (45%), requiring time off work for some (21%); and home life (44%).

• Only 12% of respondents felt supported at work.

Thematic analysis of free text comments revealed 10 key themes relating to menopause transition.

Theme 1: Lack of awareness:

“Some of the symptoms I have I didn’t realise, until this survey, that migraines which is my main sickness problem, was a symptom of the menopause (P108).”

“I do feel that the menopause is not understood by colleagues, not just the male ones but younger women who have not experienced this (P111).”

Theme 2: Personal impact:

“There have been many times I have thought of resigning my job because of the impact of my perimenopause symptoms (P16).”

“I think the biggest things that have impacted me so far are migraine headaches, being unable to get good sleep and erratic, sometimes very heavy periods (P171).”

Theme 3: Impact of working times and patterns:

“I have already changed my hours and felt I couldn’t work full time due to the symptoms I have (P447).”

“Having structure would help, regular shifts and knowing when night shifts are going to be helps, relief is horrible (P473).”

Theme 4: Embarrassment:

“Allow road crews to use facilities more frequently without having to explain why you need to every time – its embarrassing (P138).”

“If I was to take time off work because of my symptoms I would probably be laughed at by management (P435).”

Theme 5: Managerial support:

“Great that its being addressed. What’s important to me is that I know I have an understanding manager (P62).”

“No manager was remotely interested in my menopause. I was not supported just laughed at (P271).”

Theme 6: Working environment:

“Some PPE is not menopause friendly, even in the cold, we are prone to hot flashes & need lighter options (P237).”

“Fans in offices for women and also to be able to sit by open window and be able to take short break more often (P15).”

Theme 7: Dignity:

“Access to spare uniform for female road staff should you have an ‘accident’ as periods can be much heavier (P37).”

“Regular toilet stops and hydration stops with no argument (P361).”

Theme 8: Support network:

“I think just the fact that we have this survey is a start! I think we should provide some literature for all female staff about the menopause and advise them of possible symptoms, helpful resources, and a place to signpost them to enabling them to talk to someone (P187).”

“Perhaps create an in-house check for women starting or suffering with their menopause (P269).”

Theme 9: Sickness policy:

“A one-size fits all sickness policy does not support different groups of individuals such as those women suffering menopause symptoms (P136).”

“Was dealt with no differently to someone being off with a cold or back pain under the normal sickness policy. There was no understanding of the symptoms or allowances made (P195).”

Theme 10: Lack of choice:

“It is what it is just got to get on with it (P66).”

“Honestly wouldn’t know what to suggest [regarding help] as symptoms vary so much, how would you support someone with intermittent memory and concentration problems? (P401)”

In summary: All women will experience the menopause and will work through and beyond this life phase. For those who experience menopausal symptoms, the impact can be significant. Yet menopause awareness in the ambulance service is limited and there is clear scope for initiatives for improved staff support and well-being.

For further information, please email research@eastamb.nhs.uk

Published 10th December 2019

 

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