Aims and objectives: To identify and describe reasons women do not seek health care for dysmenorrhea symptoms. Background: Although dysmenorrhea is highly prevalent among women, can cause significant disruptions in their daily lives, and may increase their risk for future chronic pain conditions, few women seek health care for dysmenorrhea. A better understanding of why women do not seek health care is necessary to develop strategies that facilitate care seeking and optimal symptom management. Design: A qualitative descriptive design was used to guide the study and summarise text responses to an open-ended survey question. Methods: Participants in an online survey study who had not sought health care for dysmenorrhea (N = 509) were asked to write about their reasons for not seeking care. Data were collected in January and February 2015. Participants’ text responses were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Results: Nine categories of reasons were identified as follows: assuming symptoms are normal, preferring to self-manage symptoms, having limited resources, thinking providers would not offer help, being unaware of treatment options, considering symptoms to be tolerable, being wary of available treatments, feeling embarrassed or afraid to seek care and not seeking health care generally. Conclusions: Findings can guide the development of strategies to promote care seeking and inform policy and clinical practice to improve dysmenorrhea management. Relevance to clinical practice: Findings underscore the need to provide routine screening for dysmenorrhea, avoid dismissing dysmenorrhea symptoms, initiate discussions and provide education about dysmenorrhea, provide treatments options based on evidence and women's preferences and raise public awareness of dysmenorrhea and its impact.
- health care-seeking behaviour
- pain management
- qualitative research
- women's health
ASJC Scopus subject areas