Exploring the interface between adolescent dysmenorrhoea and endometriosis: a protocol for a cohort and nested case–control study within the QResearch Database
Dixon S., Ranger TA., Burchardt J., Patone M., Snelling AJHL., Vincent K., Hippisley-Cox J.
IntroductionDysmenorrhoea affects up to 70%–91% of adolescents who menstruate, with approximately one-third experiencing severe symptoms with impacts on education, work and leisure. Dysmenorrhoea can occur without identifiable pathology, but can indicate underlying conditions, including congenital genital tract anomalies or endometriosis. There is a need for evidence about the management and incidence of dysmenorrhoea in primary care, the impact of treatments in adolescence on long-term outcomes and when to consider the possibility of endometriosis in adolescence.Methods and analysisThis study aims to improve the evidence base for adolescents presenting to primary care with dysmenorrhoea. It comprises three interlinked studies. Using the QResearch Database, the study population includes all female at birth participants aged 10–19 years any time between 1 January 2000 and 30 June 2021. We will undertake (1) a descriptive study documenting the prevalence of coded dysmenorrhoea in primary care, stratified by demographic variables, reported using descriptive statistics; (2) a prospective open cohort study following an index cohort of all adolescents recorded as attending primary care with dysmenorrhoea and a comparator cohort of five times as many who have not, to determine the HR for a diagnosis of endometriosis, adenomyosis, ongoing menstrual pain or subfertility (considered singly and in combination) anytime during the study period; and (3) a nested case–control study for adolescents diagnosed with endometriosis, using conditional logistic regression, to determine the OR for symptom(s) preceding this diagnosis.Ethics and disseminationThe project has been independently peer reviewed and received ethics approval from the QResearch Scientific Board (reference OX46 under REC 18/EM/0400).In addition to publication in peer-reviewed academic journals, we will use the combined findings to generate a resource and infographic to support shared decision-making about dysmenorrhoea in community health settings. Additionally, the findings will be used to inform a subsequent qualitative study, exploring adolescents’ experiences of menstrual pain.