WE DO SUFFER!": A CULTURAL AND GENDERED APPROACH TO PERIMENSTRUAL DISTRESS AMONG CHINESE WOMEN IN HONG KONG
 
Lee, A.M. and Tang, C., The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
 
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) was once considered a culture bound syndrome found mainly among Western women. Recent studies have challenged this notion, with PMS being increasingly reported among non-Western women. Chinese women represent one-fourth of the female population in the world. However, systematic studies of premenstrual and menstrual (perimenstrual) distress among Chinese women are much lacking. This gives the impression that Chinese women do not suffer from perimenstrual distress (PMD). The present study uses a culturally sensitive approach in studying the perimenstrual experiences of 339 Chinese women in Hong Kong. A symptom checklist that was locally constructed and tested for validity and reliability was used. Using this psychometrically sound instrument, the present study documented the existence of PMD among Hong Kong women. The pattern of PMD will be discussed, highlighting the similarities with and differences from the patterns reported among Western women. The study further examined PMD in light of its relationship with women's roles. Based on structural equation modeling and hierarchical regression analyses, it was found that the absence of wife and maternal roles, and poor quality of the maternal role were important determinants of PMD. Neither the presence of a paid worker role nor the quality of the paid worker role was related to PMD. The findings of this study shed light on the recognition and management of menstruation-related distress among Chinese women, and point to the need for a culturally and gender sensitive approach to this important topic in health psychology.