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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Women's experiences of receiving care for pelvic organ prolapse: a qualitative study
Author(s): Abhyankar, Purva
Uny, Isabelle
Semple, Karen
Wane, Sarah
Hagen, Suzanne
Wilkinson, Joyce
Guerrero, Karen
Tincello, Douglas
Duncan, Edward
Calveley, Eileen
Elders, Andrew
McClurg, Doreen
Maxwell, Margaret
Keywords: Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Reproductive Medicine
General Medicine
Issue Date: 15-Mar-2019
Citation: Abhyankar P, Uny I, Semple K, Wane S, Hagen S, Wilkinson J, Guerrero K, Tincello D, Duncan E, Calveley E, Elders A, McClurg D & Maxwell M (2019) Women's experiences of receiving care for pelvic organ prolapse: a qualitative study. BMC Women's Health, 19, Art. No.: 45.
Abstract: Background Pelvic organ prolapse is a common urogenital condition affecting 41–50% of women over the age of 40. To achieve early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, it is important that care is sensitive to and meets women’s needs, throughout their patient journey. This study explored women’s experiences of seeking diagnosis and treatment for prolapse and their needs and priorities for improving person-centred care. Methods Twenty-two women receiving prolapse care through urogynaecology services across three purposefully selected NHS UK sites took part in three focus groups and four telephone interviews. A topic guide facilitated discussions about women’s experiences of prolapse, diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, interactions with healthcare professionals, overall service delivery, and ideals for future services to meet their needs. Data were analysed thematically. Results Three themes emerged relating to women’s experiences of a) Evaluating what is normal b) Hobson’s choice of treatment decisions, and c) The trial and error of treatment and technique. Women often delayed seeking help for their symptoms due to lack of awareness, embarrassment and stigma. When presented to GPs, their symptoms were often dismissed and unaddressed until they became more severe. Women reported receiving little or no choice in treatment decisions. Choices were often influenced by health professionals’ preferences which were subtly reflected through the framing of the offer. Women’s embodied knowledge of their condition and treatment was largely unheeded, resulting in decisions that were inconsistent with women’s preferences and needs. Physiotherapy based interventions were reported as helping women regain control over their symptoms and life. A need for greater awareness of prolapse and physiotherapy interventions among women, GPs and consultants was identified alongside greater focus on prevention, early diagnosis and regular follow-up. Greater choice and involvement in treatment decision making was desired. Conclusions As prolapse treatment options expand to include more conservative choices, greater awareness and education is needed among women and professionals about these as a first line treatment and preventive measure, alongside a multi-professional team approach to treatment decision making. Women presenting with prolapse symptoms need to be listened to by the health care team, offered better information about treatment choices, and supported to make a decision that is right for them.
DOI Link: 10.1186/s12905-019-0741-2
Rights: © The Author(s). 2019 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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