Obstetrics/GynecologyORIGINAL ARTICLE

Uncovering gaps in management of vasomotor symptoms: findings from a national need assessment

Teresa A. Hubka, DO; Andrew Crim, MEd; Ju Yong Koh, DO; Chris Larrison, BA; Tom McKeithen, MBA; Matthew Fleming, BA; Jennifer Caruso, DO; and Martha Prud’homme, BS
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: January 15, 2024

Accepted: April 22, 2024

Published: May 30, 2024

  • Teresa A. Hubka, DO, 

    Founder and Medical Director, Comprehensive Wellness Care, LLC, Chicago, IL, USA

  • Andrew Crim, MEd, 

    American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Fort Worth, TX, USA

  • Ju Yong Koh, DO, 

    Obstetrician and Gynecologist,
    Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group
    , Chicago, IL, USA

  • Chris Larrison, BA, 

    Founding Partner, Healthcare Performance Consulting, Inc., Zionsville, IN, USA

  • Tom McKeithen, MBA, 

    Founding Partner, Healthcare Performance Consulting, Inc., Fleming Island, FL, USA

  • Matthew Fleming, BA, 

    Vice President, Antidote Education Company, Nashville, TN, USA

  • Jennifer Caruso, DO, 

    Editorial Chair, American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Troy, MI, USA

  • Martha Prud’homme, BS, 

    Senior Program Manager, American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Fort Worth, TX, USA


Context: This national needs assessment study explores the knowledge, attitude, beliefs, and practices (KABP) gaps related to vasomotor symptoms (VMS) associated with menopause among primary care and OB/GYN clinicians. VMS significantly impacts healthcare costs, workplace productivity, and patient psychosocial health, but a notable disconnect exists between healthcare providers and patients, with provider reticence and knowledge gaps playing a contributing role.

Objectives: This study aims to identify and propose optimal educational strategies to address these barriers, with attention to health disparities affecting women of color.

Methods: Methods employed include a multimodal approach of literature review, expert opinion, qualitative interviews, surveys, focus groups, and case studies, ensuring diverse clinician input. Data collection involved in-depth clinician interviews, a nationally disseminated clinician survey, and focus groups.

Results: Results indicate a critical deficiency in healthcare providers’ understanding and management of VMS, especially among OB/GYN residents, with 75 % showing limited knowledge. The study also highlights the disproportionate impact of knowledge gaps on women of color, emphasizing the need for a culturally informed approach in medical training and practice. There’s a notable discrepancy between clinicians’ current and desired abilities in managing VMS, indicating a need for ongoing professional development. Significant variability in approaches to diagnosing and treating VMS, as well as substantial knowledge gaps about treatment options, underscore the need for evidence-based protocols.

Conclusions: Although VMS are a normal aspect of aging, they can significantly disrupt quality of life for many women, necessitating intervention. Beyond the immediate discomfort, VMS can impact quality of life and trigger insomnia and mood disturbances. This study exposes both new and previously recognized gaps in healthcare providers’ knowledge and management skills concerning VMS treatment options, particularly regarding hormonal and nonhormonal therapies. Furthermore, our findings highlight the need for a deeper understanding of how VMS uniquely impacts women of diverse backgrounds. Research, including the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), suggests that the experience and severity of VMS may be influenced by socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), and smoking status. However, the complex interplay of these factors and their relative contributions remain unclear. Further investigation is crucial to facilitate equitable access to effective treatment for all women. To bridge these gaps, improved education starting as early as residency is essential. This education should address common misconceptions about VMS and its management. Healthcare providers must enhance their competence in discussing the broad spectrum of VMS impacts and employ effective communication strategies to ensure that patients are well-informed about their symptoms and available treatment options.

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