Hong Kong Med J 2013;19:222–8 | Number 3, June 2013 | Epub 3 Apr 2013
DOI: 10.12809/hkmj133807
Dysmenorrhoea among Hong Kong university students: prevalence, impact, and management
CF Chia, Joyce HY Lai, PK Cheung, LT Kwong, Fiona PM Lau, KH Leung, MT Leung, Francis CH Wong, SF Ngu
Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVE. To evaluate the prevalence of dysmenorrhoea, its impact, and management approaches in Hong Kong university students, and to compare between medical and non-medical students for any potential differences in coping strategies.
DESIGN. Cross-sectional questionnaire survey.
SETTING. The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
PARTICIPANTS. A total of 240 undergraduate (128 medical and 112 non-medical) students.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES. Data on the presence and severity of dysmenorrhoea, its impact on daily life, management approaches, specific strategies, and their self-perceived effectiveness were obtained and analysed.
RESULTS. In these subjects, the prevalence of dysmenorrhoea was 80% (95% confidence interval, 75-85%) with a mean (standard deviation) pain score of 5.0 (1.7). The most common impacts on daily life included reduced ability to concentrate and/or disturbance with study (75%) and changes in normal physical activity (60%). Only 6% sought medical advice, while 70% practised self-management. Pain scores and pain affecting normal physical activities were important predictive factors for self-management and for management based on pharmacological or non-pharmacological means. The commonest specific strategies used were a warm beverage (62%), paracetamol (57%), and sleeping (45%), while the most effective strategies were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (100%), traditional Chinese medicine (93%), and dietary/nutritional supplements (92%). Regarding the comparison of medical and non-medical students, the former used fewer pharmacological strategies among the various management approaches investigated.
CONCLUSION. With data showing dysmenorrhoea as a very common condition having a significant impact in the Hong Kong community, primary care doctors should reassure young women with dysmenorrhoea that it is a common experience in the same age-group. Health education on the existence of effective treatment from medical practitioners could help women whose dysmenorrhoea was not controlled by self-management.
Key words: Dysmenorrhea; Prevalence; Young adult
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