Knowledge, Perceptions, and Attitudes Toward Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Urinary Incontinence in Spanish-Speaking Latinas

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Abstract

Objectives

The aim of the study was to explore individual views and perceptions of Spanish-speaking Latinas living on the US/Mexico border toward pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and urinary incontinence (UI), including awareness of conditions, implications of diagnoses, knowledge, and attitudes toward available treatment options.

Methods

Spanish-speaking Latina women were recruited from clinics at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso. Focus group discussions were conducted, addressing topics including female pelvic anatomy, perceived etiology and course of POP and UI, and attitudes toward treatment options. Discussions were transcribed and qualitative analysis performed to identify common themes and concepts.

Results

Twenty-four women participated in 5 focus groups as follows: 2 groups of women diagnosed with POP/UI, 2 groups of women with POP/UI symptoms, and 1 group of asymptomatic women. Mean age of participants was 52 years. Participants had a good basic understanding of pelvic organs and function. The following 3 common themes were derived from our analysis: culture, barriers, and misconceptions. Concepts identified from common themes included views of POP/UI as “abnormal” conditions; perceptions that providers may downplay or ignore symptoms of POP/UI; fear of doctor; views of cancer as a common POP complication; embarrassment; views of “massage” therapy as an effective treatment for POP; and willingness to consider all available treatment options for POP and UI, including pessary.

Conclusions

Findings suggest need for patient reassurance about the prevalence and benign course of POP and UI upon initial assessment, with continued reinforcement of basic concepts after diagnosis, and need for increased awareness and information resources for healthcare providers and Spanish-speaking Latina women regarding these common pelvic floor disorders.

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