Women's attitudes to hormone replacement therapy in the aftermath of the Women's Health Initiative study


  • Herdís Sveinsdóttir PhD RN,

  • Ragnar F. Ólafsson MA BS

Herdís Sveinsdóttir,
Faculty of Nursing,
University of Iceland,
Eiríksgötu 34,
Reykjavík 101,
E-mail: herdis@hi.is


Aim.  This paper is a report of a study conducted in 2004 on the determinants of attitudes towards hormone replacement therapy in the aftermath of the report on the findings of the Women's Health Initiative study.

Background.  The unexpected findings of the Women's Health Initiative study, published in July 2002, showed that the risk of using combined hormones exceeded their benefits. This complicated women's decision-making about hormone use and made it important to study the determinants of their attitudes to hormone therapy, as these are likely to influence their behaviour.

Methods.  A cross-sectional design was conducted with a sample of 561 women drawn from the National Registry of Iceland. A self-administered questionnaire, measuring attitudes towards hormone replacement therapy, attitudes towards menopause, extent and source of menopausal education, symptom experience, health and lifestyle and knowledge about the findings of the Women's Health Initiative, was used. The overall response rate was 56%. Attitudes to hormone replacement therapy were compared using anova, t-tests and correlations.

Results.  Participants generally had positive attitudes. Knowledge about the Women's Health Initiative study was not associated with more negative attitudes. However, receiving the information from and discussing it with a doctor were associated with more positive attitudes. Positive attitudes towards hormone therapy were also associated with higher age, time since last menstrual period and current use of hormone replacement therapy. Negative attitudes were associated with use of natural remedies and receiving information from or discussing hormone therapy with family or friends.

Conclusion.  Research is needed to identify the dynamics of the medical interview, and the nature of input from friends, spouse and other family members. The content of these messages may be different and conflicting, for example, between doctors and family members. The nature of this conflict and conflicts of interests need to be identified in order to inform women's decision-making. In addition, action needs to be taken in order to strengthen the advisory role of nurses.