Reproducibility and validity of self-reported menopausal status in a prospective cohort study

Graham A. Colditz, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, William B. Stason, Bernard Rosner, Charles H. Hennekens, Frank E. Speizer

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The reproducibility and validity of self-reported menopausal status were evaluated among the 121,700 female US regIstered nurses aged 30-55 years in 1976 who are participants in the Nurses' Health Study, a prospective cohort study of diseases in women. When questioned in 1978, 6,591 of the women who were premenopausal in 1976 reported that their menses had ceased and provided their age at menopause. Two years later, in 1980, 98·8 per cent of the 6,591 women again reported that they were postmenopausal and again gave the reasons for menopause (natural or surgical). Among those women who reported surgical menopause during the 1976-1978 follow-up interval, age at menopause was reported to within one year on both the 1978 and 1980 questionnaires by 95 per cent of women. Among those reporting natural menopause during the 1976- 1978 period, 82 per cent of women reported their age at menopause to within one year on the two follow-up questionnaires. A random sample of 255 women reporting surgical menopause between 1982 and 1984 was identified and medical records were obtained for 200. For all but two women, there was complete agreement between self-report and medical record for details of hysterectomy and extent of ovarian surgery. The reproducibility of self-reported age at menopause was assessed among 31,405 women who were menopausal in 1976. Reported age at menopause on consecutive questionnaires showed increasing within-person variance with increasing duration since menopause. Women who had undergone surgical menopause showed less variance in recall of age at menopause than did women with a natural menopause. These self-reported data on menopause are considerably more reproducible and accurate than previous findings from case-control studies in which menopause had occurred in the more remote past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-325
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1987


  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Menopause
  • Prospective studies


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