To measure the impact of menopause on work ability in women with severe menopausal symptoms.
Study design: This cross-sectional study compared the work ability of a sample of otherwise healthy employed Dutch women (n = 205) with that of a sample of first-time attendees of a menopause clinic (n = 60); both groups were aged 44–60 years. Self-reported questionnaire data assessing work ability (Work Ability Index; WAI) and menopausal symptoms (Greene Climacteric Scale; GCS) were used.Main outcome measures: Logistic regression analyses were used to examine whether women with severe menopausal symptoms were more likely to have low work ability (defined as a score <37.0 points on the WAI) than were women in the reference group, after adjustment for individual and lifestyle factors.Results: Symptomatic women had significantly higher total GCS scores (mean 26.7 vs 14.2, t=10.8, P < 0.001) and significantly lower WAI scores (median 32.0 vs 40.0, U = 2380, P < 0.001) than the reference group. They were 8.4 times more likely to report low work ability than their healthy counterparts: 76.7% versus 30.2% (OR 8.4, 95% CI 4.1–17.2).
Over three-quarters of symptomatic menopausal women report serious problems in dealing with the physical and mental demands of their work (recorded here as low work ability); hence these women might be at risk of prolonged sickness absence from work.