Women's decision making about the use of natural health products at menopause: A needs assessment and patient decision aid

France Légaré, Dawn Stacey, Sylvie Dodin, Annette O'Connor, Monique Richer, Frances Griffiths, Annie Leblanc, Jean L.C. Rousseau, Sylvie Tapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: To identify the decision-making needs of women about the use of natural health products (NHP) at menopause and to develop a decision aid responsive to their needs. Design: A qualitative study using focus groups, key informant interviews and group consultation. Content analysis was guided by the Ottawa Decision Support Framework. Methods: Six focus groups with menopausal women aged 45 to 64 (n = 40) and key informant interviews (n = 15; physicians, nurses, women' s advocacy group, NHP stores owners, pharmacists, policy makers) were conducted in two Canadian cities. Two groups of menopausal women (n = 11) were consulted to obtain feedback on the acceptability of the new patient decision aid. Results: The most common difficult decisions identified by women were: whether or not to take NHP; which NHP to choose; and whether or not to take anything for menopausal symptoms. In addition, key informants identified the challenge of choosing between hormone therapy and NHP for menopausal symptoms. The main sources of difficulty in making these decisions were the following: (1) inadequate knowledge and unrealistic expectations associated with NHP; (2) closed mindedness of physicians to discussion about NHP; (3) conflicting opinions of others; (4) inadequate resources to support NHP decision-making (e.g., information, finances, time); and (5) menopausal symptoms interfering with decision-making (e.g., lack of sleep due to hot flashes). To facilitate decision making, participants suggested the need for information about available choices, tighter regulation of NHP by the government, and access to health professionals conversant in NHP and medical options. The patient decision aid was developed according to the International Patient Decision Aid Standards and based on women' s identified needs. Women described the aid as easy to understand and useful for considering the decisions about NHP. Conclusions: Middle-age women reported difficulty when facing decisions about the use of NHP. Many sources of difficulty could be addressed in the patient decision aid. Subsequent studies should evaluate the effect of this decision aid on the decision-making process of women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-749
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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