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Objectives: A substantial minority of women report considerable distress during hot flushes. Coping with various chronic health problems has been related to perceived control in previous studies. Hence this study developed a standardised measure to investigate whether perceived control is associated with less distress during menopausal hot flushes. Method: The study presented a suitably re-worded 15-item scale (the Arthritis Helplessness Index, originally developed by Nicassio et al., J Rheumatol 1985;12:462–467. Scoring was reversed so that high scores signified greater perceived control. A volunteer sample of 43 women (mean age 51 years) completed the scale together with several further measures. A total of 35 women returned 12 month follow-up questionnaires. Results: The Perceived Control Index (PCI) scores correlated with standardised measures of self-esteem and simple self-ratings (0–100) of perceived control, and remained very stable over 12 months. Self-rated distress during flush episodes was more closely related to perceived control than to more objective factors such as flush frequency and chronicity. Conclusion: These findings support further investigation into whether subjective coping with flushes may be improved by psychological interventions that enhance perceived control and self-esteem.
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Accepted: May 15, 1997
Received: October 17, 1996
© 1997 Published by Elsevier Inc.