The purpose of this study was to explore the possibility of teaching women alternative means of coping with menstrual distress symptoms. This had been attempted on an individual basis using biofeedback (Sedlacek and Heczey, 1977; Clayman and Simkins, 1975), systematic desensitization (Mullen, 1971), and physical exercise (Denmark and Heczey, 1979). These programs were aimed primarily at treating dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation, and did not focus on symptoms traditionally considered to describe "premenstrual tension". This study proposed to explore what forms of treatment intervention might be effective in alleviating premenstrual tension symptoms as well as symptoms of dysmenorrhea.^ The design of the menstrual distress treatment programs was based on current treatment of dysmenorrhea, current general treatment of symptoms such as depression and anxiety, and the characteristic coping styles of the high menstrual distress woman. The therapeutic and training techniques that were drawn from this basis were combined to form two group training programs. The first relied heavily on physical modes of treatment intervention. Included in this program were relaxation training, biofeedback techniques, and a physical exercise program. The second training program was primarily cognitive in orientation and included assertiveness training, RET techniques, and a review of socio-cultural history related to the menstrual cycle.^ The programs were offered through a Chicago area community mental health center. The subjects were parous women, age thirty to fifty years, who responded to publicity offering a training program designed to alleviate menstrual distress symptoms. Poor response to the publicity and attrition rate resulted in six, four and five members in the control group and each of two training groups, respectively. The initial subject population goal was ten members per group.^ The training groups met for one and a half hours weekly over a period of two months. Each training group had two leaders who switched groups half-way through the program in a cross-over design.^ The dependent measure was the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire Form T (Moos, 1968) which was completed twice weekly throughout five menstrual cycles.^ The main hypotheses predicted a significant difference between control and training groups on post-treatment measures of menstrual distress. Though the repeated measures analysis of variance revealed no significant interaction effects to support the main hypotheses, the group means did reveal that the two training groups reported lower post-treatment levels of menstrual distress than they reported during pre-treatment. The secondary hypotheses were offered post-hoc to further investigate these reductions in menstrual distress. These hypotheses, that the two training groups would demonstrate significantly reduced post-treatment levels of menstrual distress or pre-post treatment comparisons, were supported.^ Lack of support for the main hypotheses was attributed to the magnitude of the training programs' effectiveness, the size of the groups, and individual differences in responsiveness to the training techniques.^ Recommendations included assessment of the level of demand for such a program, enlarging the referral base by enlisting the support of the medical community, combining the two training programs and including individualized group therapy techniques in the program. ^



Subject Area

Clinical psychology

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