Health Care Disparities Among English-Speaking and Spanish-Speaking Women With Pelvic Organ Prolapse at Public and Private Hospitals: What Are the Barriers?

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Abstract

Objectives

The objective of this study was to compare perceptions and barriers between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking women in public and private hospitals being treated for pelvic organ prolapse (POP).

Methods

Eight focus groups, 4 in English and 4 in Spanish, were conducted at 3 institutions with care in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Standardized questions were asked regarding patients' emotions to when they initially noticed the POP, if they sought family support, and their response to the diagnosis and treatment. Transcripts were analyzed using grounded theory qualitative methods.

Results

Thirty-three women were Spanish-speaking and 25 were English-speaking. Spanish speakers were younger (P = 0.0469) and less likely to have a high school diploma (P < 0.0001) than English speakers. Spanish-speaking women had more concerns that the bulge or treatments could lead to cancer, were more resistant to treatment options, and were less likely to be offered surgery. Women in the private hospital desired more information, were less embarrassed, and were more likely to be offered surgery as first-line treatment. The concept emerged that patient care for POP varied based on socioeconomic status and language and suggested the presence of disparities in care for underserved women with POP.

Conclusions

The discrepancies in care for Spanish-speaking women and women being treated at public hospitals suggest that there are disparities in care for POP treatment for underserved women. These differences may be secondary to profit-driven pressures from private hospitals or language barriers, low socioeconomic status, low health literacy, and barriers to health care.

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