Occupational stress and the menstrual cycle

Kilpatrick, Gwendoline (2000) Occupational stress and the menstrual cycle. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This research brings together, in a unique way, two areas of current interest in Psychology, occupational stress and menstrual cycle research. Whilst there is a growing trend towards intensive measures being used in Occupational Stress
research, the effects of menstrual cycle experiences of women are largely ignored. The research objectives are focused on presenting a unif'ing model of the relationships between stress from occupational sources and consequent wellbeing on paramenstrual symptomology. This research specifically addresses the issues of sampling bias, the reliability of the widely used measure the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire (MDQ)(MOOS, 1968), and the division of the menstrual cycle into
phases. The data from 362 working women (50% who considered that they suffered from PMS) in the cross-sectional study, established a new two-factor structure of the MDQ. The second study employed daily diaries, completed by 20 working women, 40% of whom considered that they suffered from PMS. Ovulation detection kits were used to ascertain i1 and when, ovulation occurred to accurately divide the intermenstrual phase. Analysis of the data to explore the model revealed that the relationships between measures were different in different phases of the menstrual cycle. For example, negative stronger relationships between perceived efficiency and work performance and wellbeing in the pararnenstrual phase were noted. This may illuminate the paradox apparent in the literature that women report that they perform less well in the paramenstruum, yet actual measured performance is not adversely affected. Mother finding was the different cyclical patterns reported by self-reported PMS sufferers and non sufferers. PMS women did not report the increase in wellbeing reported by other women in the luteal phase. The relationship between wellbeing and somatisation is noticeable lower for PMS reporters in the menstrual, follicular and (especially) the ovulatory phases, which suggests that what happens at ovulation is of interest and is a neglected area in empirical research. The results are consistent with the view
that future occupational research should examine changes in reactivity to environmental stress throughout the cycle. Future research into both women's experience of the menstrual cycle, occupational stress and the relationship between the two, may be inlomied both in methodology and theory development.

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