Background Menopausal symptoms can have a significant impact on workplace attendance and performance, yet limited evidence regarding the menopause transition in the emergency services exists. The aim of this study was to explore work and personal impacts of the menopause on female staff in the ambulance setting.
Methods A purpose-designed, online 20-question survey, based on the British Menopause Society Survey (2016), was developed to understand menopausal symptoms and their impact on female staff in one UK ambulance service. Disseminated during July 2019, it resulted in a convenience sample of 522 responses (22% of female workforce), which were analysed using quantitative (descriptive) and qualitative (thematic) approaches.
Results Typically, respondents were either pre-menopausal (33%; n=171) or peri-menopausal (24%; n=126). Approximately one third (31%; n=161) were menopausal or post-menopausal. Over half worked in operational emergency service delivery (58%; n=301), and typically worked shifts/unsocial hours (75%; n=391). For those who had experienced menopause symptoms (64%; n=336), 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%; n=205) stated they had not expected the symptoms they experienced, which had impacted on their well-being (51%; n=171); work life (45%; n=151), some requiring time off work (21%; n=71); and home life (44%; n=148). Only 12% (n=40) of respondents felt supported at work. Of most concern to respondents was lack of awareness of menopause symptoms, and their impact throughout the service, in particular those in managerial roles and male staff.
Conclusions 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.
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