Qualitative studies show that women link menopause to the ageing process, and yet surprisingly little research has investigated how attitudes to ageing might shape women's experience of menopause, as well as their overall well-being at midlife. This study validated the Attitudes to Ageing Questionnaire (AAQ) for use among midlife women, and explored the AAQ's role in predicting menopausal factors and 10 year well-being trajectories in the midlife group.
Scale validation involved cross-sectional group comparisons of the AAQ factor structure between a sample of midlife women aged 40-60 (n=517) and sample of women aged over 60 (n=259). Longitudinal data on 10-year change in subjective well-being was analysed for a subsample of the midlife group (n=492).
Main outcome measures
Hot flush interference ratings, menopausal beliefs, subjective well-being.
Assessment of measurement invariance showed support for configural and scalar invariance, with partial support for strict invariance. Midlife women exhibited more negative attitudes to ageing on the psychosocial loss subscale compared to older women. Attitude to psychosocial loss was the strongest predictor of women's experience of menopause, and women with a negative attitude to psychosocial loss did not experience gains in subjective well-being with age that were characteristic of those with a positive attitude.
Findings demonstrate the validity and utility of the AAQ for use among midlife women. Policies to enhance attitudes to ageing could be beneficial to protect well-being during the second half of life.