Objectives: The aims of this study were to describe women's stated knowledge of the primary urogynecologic diagnostic terms (urinary incontinence, pelvic floor disorder, and pelvic organ prolapse) and to assess factors associated with knowledge.
Methods: Before any education about pelvic floor disorders, 376 women presenting to primary care-level gynecologic clinics were asked whether they knew what the terms urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic floor disorder meant. χ2 and t tests were used to compare characteristics of women with complete knowledge versus partial or no knowledge of terms. P < 0.05 was considered significant.
Results: Of all women, 25% knew all 3 terms and 18% knew none. Moreover, 80%, 52%, and 27% of women reported that they knew the meaning of the terms urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic floor disorder, respectively. Of women with stress urinary incontinence symptoms, 88% knew the term urinary incontinence compared with 78% without stress urinary incontinence (P = 0.07). Of 41 women, 31 (76%) with the symptom of vaginal bulge knew the term pelvic organ prolapse compared with 49% without (P = 0.001). Only higher education and symptom of vaginal bulge were associated with complete knowledge of the 3 terms; 30% of women who completed college or higher reported complete knowledge compared with 18% who did not (P = 0.013).
Conclusions: Public health campaigns using terms pelvic organ prolapse or pelvic floor disorders are unlikely to reach most women. Further education and research are needed to improve women's health literacy in urogynecology.