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Obstetrics & Gynecology:
doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000115513.92318.b7
Review

Documenting the Current Definitions of Chronic Pelvic Pain: Implications for Research

Williams, Rachel E. PhD*; Hartmann, Katherine E. MD, PhD*†; Steege, John F. MD†

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: We examined chronic pelvic pain definitions used in published research, because the definition has direct implications for investigating causation and evaluating treatment.

DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE was searched for published articles in an Abridged Index Medicus journal from 1966 to 2001, restricted to humans, females, and English language. “Chronic pelvic pain” was used as a keyword.

METHODS OF STUDY SELECTION: We reviewed 101 abstracts of publications of chronic pelvic pain. Forty-three articles met the criteria of human, female, English language, chronic pelvic pain, and use of an experimental, cohort, case-control, or cross-sectional study design.

TABULATION, INTEGRATION, AND RESULTS: The following were not explicitly specified in the chronic pelvic pain definitions in these articles: duration of pain in 44%, restriction by pathology in 74%, location of pain in 93%, restriction by comorbidity in 95%, and additional inclusion/exclusion criteria in 65%.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that an explicit chronic pelvic pain definition is not used for research of this population. The use of a poor operational chronic pelvic pain research definition reduces the ability to investigate causation and improve treatment of this condition.

© 2004 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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