Press Release

Jacobs Institute Publishes Menopause Counseling Guidelines

National Committee for Quality Assurance and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Endorse Guidelines for Health Plans and Health Care Providers

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March 1, 2000, Washington, DC The Jacobs Institute of Womens Health has published Guidelines for Counseling Women on the Management of Menopause for use by health plans and clinicians. The Guidelines are designed for use in conjunction with the National Committee for Quality Assurances (NCQA) HEDIS® Management of Menopause measure.

"Management of Menopause is a new measure, the first in the HEDIS Informed Health Care Choices domain. With appropriate counseling, as described in the Guidelines, managed care organizations and clinicians can help women make the choices that are right for them. Im pleased that health plans will have the Guidelines to assist them," said Margaret E. OKane, NCQA President.

The Guidelines include: basic principles of patient counseling; topics to cover in menopause counseling; information on methods for managing symptoms and diseases of advancing age, such as coronary heart disease and osteoporosis; and resources for clinicians and women.

The Guidelines were developed by the Jacobs Institutes Expert Panel on Menopause Counseling. "These guidelines are not clinical guidelines; they do not recommend specific treatments for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Instead, the focus is on informing women about options for managing menopausal symptoms and for preventing some of the diseases associated with aging," according to William Andrews, MD, FACOG, co-chair of the panel:

The Guidelines can assist clinicians in answering questions women have about treatment options, including the known benefits and risks of treatments and the strength of the evidence on those benefits and risks.

"The ultimate goal of the Guidelines is to help women make decisions that are best for them given their own health history, family health history, and personal preferences and concerns. Because our knowledge base in this area is changing daily, women's needs for information are understandable," said Carol S. Weisman, PhD, who co-chaired the expert panel with Dr. Andrews.

"Patient counseling is one of the ob-gyns most important jobs. Women who are included in the decision-making process are more likely to follow through on decisions made. The Jacobs Institute has provided clinicians with a valuable tool, " said Ralph Hale, MD, FACOG, Executive Vice President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

One specific recommendation the Guidelines offers to health plans is to provide high quality informational materials, such as pamphlets, audiocassettes, videotapes, or Internet-based media tools for use in combination with one-on-one counseling with a clinician. Decision aids are helpful to patients when the right choice of treatment is unclear, when there is not broad agreement on the benefits and risks of different options (including no treatment), and when there is a value-laden component in the decision.

Members of the Jacobs Institutes Expert Panel on Menopause Counseling included: William C. Andrews, MD, Eastern Virginia Medical School; Mary Kay Holleran, RN, Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield; Cynda Johnson, MD, Department of Family Medicine, University of Iowa; Elizabeth A. Mort, MD, MPH, Massachusetts General Hospital; Margaret OKane, National Committee for Quality Assurance; Donna Rae Richardson, JD, RN, Howard University Cancer Center; Cheryl Warner, MD, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates; Carol S. Weisman, PhD, University of Michigan School of Public Health; and Nancy Fugate Woods, PhD, RN, FAAN, University of Washington School of Nursing.

HEDIS (Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set) is the most widely used set of performance measures in the managed care industry. It is developed and maintained by NCQA. Management of Menopause, a survey measure, evaluates the provision of counseling on managing menopausal hormonal changes to women age 47-55 by their managed care organization.

The Jacobs Institute of Women's Health is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the knowledge, practice, and understanding of women's health. Members of the Jacobs Institute include health care providers, researchers, policy makers, and advocates with the common goal of improving the health status of women.

Development of the Guidelines was supported by The Commonwealth Fund, a New York City-based private independent foundation. The views presented here are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Commonwealth Fund, its directors, officers, or staff. For more information about the Guidelines, contact Emily Schifrin, Project Director, at (202) 863-1633 or To download the Guidelines, click here. To order a printed version, click here.

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For Immediate Release