Nursing’s Lori Cray contributing to NIH-funded project on women’s health

March 4, 2011

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College of Nursing Assistant Professor Lori Cray has received a subaward from the University of Washington to participate in research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Cray will apply her expertise in latent class analysis and causal modeling as she collaborates with UW researchers to improve women’s health.

The research to which Cray is contributing, “Menopause Symptom Clusters: Refocusing Therapeutics,” shifts the paradigm by which menopause research has typically been conducted. Although women experience clusters of symptoms during the menopausal transition, most research has focused on individual symptoms such as hot flashes. Cray and the other researchers will instead investigate clusters of symptoms experienced during menopause.

The current study is a secondary data analysis of the longitudinal Seattle Midlife Women's Health Study that collected data from over 500 participants over a 15 year period beginning in the early 1990's. The purpose of this analysis is to:  1) identify prevalent symptom clusters during the late reproductive stage, early and late menopausal transition stages, and early post-menopause using latent class analysis; 2) determine the consistency of symptom clusters as women change from one menopausal transition stage to the next; 3) test models linking genetic polymorphisms, endocrine biomarkers, symptom vulnerability factors, social-behavioral risk factors and menopause-related factors to symptom clusters, and outcomes of well-being and symptom interference; 4) conduct a systematic review of controlled clinical trials to identify symptoms as secondary treatment effects and adverse effects that will inform us about therapies for symptom clusters and 5) synthesize results of the empirical analyses and systematic review to develop novel symptom cluster management protocols to be tested in future feasibility studies.