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Request for help with research on the menopause

(13 Posts)
MEDIA: DrCCampbell Wed 01-Jul-20 15:04:53

Hello Gransnetters,
This is a post asking if you’d be willing to give up ten minutes of your time to help with research on the menopause.
I’m Dr Christine Campbell from St Mary's University in London and I’m working in collaboration with my colleague Dr Nikki Hayfield at UWE in Bristol. We're conducting research on women's beliefs about menopause. There's not nearly enough research in this area, and what exists is mainly from a medical standpoint. There's a big gap in understanding what women actually think about menopause.

We've already collected data from a sample of 100 young women in their early twenties, using what's called a story completion task. They were asked to write a short story based on a prompt that a fictional character "Kate" has noticed her periods are erratic and her friend suggests it might be the menopause. Our participants were simply asked to write about what happens next. They wrote some very interesting things which we can’t tell you right now unfortunately, in case it changes your responses, but once we stop data collection we’ll share a summary on this thread if people are interested.

We want to see if older women have the same beliefs and that’s why we’re here, asking for your help. The story completion task is actually fun to do – you can be quite creative if you want and give ‘Kate’ a real story arc. Or you can just write a few lines – we’re grateful for all responses. The only criteria are that you have to be based in Britain and over the age of 35.

The ethics bit - we’re both academic psychologists working under British Psychological Society guidelines. We've received ethical approval from our universities, everything will be anonymised, you’re free to take part and withdraw at will. You’re welcome to get in contact with us if there’s anything you want to ask, our contact details are on the first page of the site or you can post below.

After all that, if you think you’d like to take part, here’s the link:

Thank you so much Gransnetters. It’s never easy to recruit people for academic studies but we hope this is an issue close to many of your hearts and you’ll feel motivated to take part. We’re very grateful to each and every person who does. (And please feel free to send the link to friends and family.)

ninathenana Wed 01-Jul-20 16:14:58

Happy to help with research as in a questionnaire but sorry I find the fiction writing strange and not for me.

Toadinthehole Wed 01-Jul-20 16:19:05

Yes, same here, not sure what you want with the fiction, as it’s real for most of us, I think I’d just end up writing about my experiences, rather than made up ones! Happy to answer any questions though.

fevertree Wed 01-Jul-20 16:19:16

I'm happy to participate and also happy with the story telling approach, it sounds interesting, and I will send the link on to friends.

fevertree Wed 01-Jul-20 17:27:04

Done, and that was really easy! I feel that the story telling part is just a novel way (in terms of surveys) of reflecting lived experience (and can be as short or as long as you like). Followed by a handful of questions. smile

PinkCakes Wed 01-Jul-20 19:07:44

I was interested in completing a survey, but I don't fancy writing some story hmm so I'll give it a miss.

DrCCampbell Wed 01-Jul-20 19:57:00

Thank you so much for the interest everyone.
I'm so happy to see that some people have gone ahead and completed our study and found it easy and fun.
And I completely hear what other people are saying about being put off and the method being a bit unusual.
Let me share some thoughts and an explanation of why we're doing it like this?

You're right, it's quite a new technique. My collaborator Nikki Hayes has written papers and given talks on this method. (In fact, I just did a little googling to see if there was a handy summary of what it's all about, and the first page I came to has a video on it that features her giving a lecture! ). It is gaining in popularity and more and more people are using it.

As a researcher, I really love it - it's a way of sort of coming sideways on people's beliefs. It seems to result in much richer and more revealing information than a bog standard interview or questionnaire where you just ask people flat out, "So, what do you think about the menopause?"

As a participant I think story completion tasks give you a much more gentle experience. You're not put on the spot, you can free form a bit. You can absolutely bring your own experiences into it - that's fine - if you want to imagine you're Kate then please do. But equally, if you want to imagine a very different life for her, you can do that too.
And you have the flexibility to write as much or as little as you want to. Some people write one or two hundred words, some people literally write a sentence.
(One person wrote us an entire story that was about a thousand words long!)

So, I hope that gives people some food for thought (and ideally encourages people to have a go). And either way, I really appreciate you engaging with us. It's nice to know that this topic is at least catching people's eye.

Jane10 Wed 01-Jul-20 21:14:11

I was happy to contribute but found the format too off putting. If there had just been a straight survey it would be more likely to gather useful data.
In its current format its more likely that people who had experienced significant problems would persevere but the data from women with more straightforward experiences would be missed thus skewing the outcomes.

Jane10 Wed 01-Jul-20 21:18:38

Obviously this study seems all about the methodology. Did you consider Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis? A semi structured interview thus allows free form data but in an easier format to interact with.
There's a question for you viva!

fevertree Wed 01-Jul-20 21:22:28

Jane10 not necessarily. I breezed through menopause and I was not put off by the format. I think that most participants who respond to surveys do so because they believe that their experience (positive or negative) can contribute to the research.

The format for this survey actually does not require "perseverance" it is straightforward and not at all long or tedious (unlike many other surveys).

Maggiemaybe Wed 01-Jul-20 21:30:13

Done. But I really don’t see how my contribution will be useful in this format. I was still expecting to be asked at least a couple of “proper” questions about my experience (rather than just age and work situation) after having written the short story.confused

janeainsworth Thu 02-Jul-20 07:55:45

I’m afraid I’m not very imaginative so the story reflected my own experience and was very brief!

DrCCampbell Thu 02-Jul-20 11:13:17

Hello everyone. Again, just checking in to say thank you for showing an interest and, if you haven't yet, to try to encourage you to have a go, even if you think the story completion task sounds odd. Writing about your own experiences is totally fine, going off on a bizarre tangent is totally fine too. That's one of the beauties of the method - you have complete control over how to respond.

Please be assured that Nikki and I both have a long history in using qualitative methods and this wasn't a random choice. There are lots of reasons for using different methods and this one really fits our research question for this particular study perfectly.

But we're loving the supportive suggestions for alternatives and my co-researcher and I will no doubt be doing interview studies, and maybe even questionnaires at some point down the line when we want to answer different questions. It seems like there are plenty of people who are keen to get involved in research on this topic, so hopefully we'll have a study that might whet your appetite in future.

(special aside to @jane10 Thankfully my days of vivas are long gone, but I love how supportive your suggestions were. And shout out for IPA! It's my favourite method, even though you're not supposed to have favourites. I'm sure we'll be using it in the future.)

Biggest thank you to the people who have done the study for us, it's such a great feeling to see the data rolling in!