Objective: This study aimed to assess the effect of the initial visit with a specialist on disease understanding among Spanish-speaking women with pelvic floor disorders.
Methods: Spanish-speaking women with referrals suggestive of urinary incontinence (UI) and/or pelvic organ prolapse (POP) were recruited from public urogynecology clinics. Patients participated in a health literacy assessment and interview before and after their physician encounter. All interviews were analyzed using Grounded Theory qualitative methods.
Results: Twenty-seven women with POP (n = 6), UI (n = 11), and POP/UI (n = 10) were enrolled in this study. The mean age was 55.5 years, and most women had marginal levels of health literacy. From our qualitative analysis, 3 concepts emerged. First, was that patients had poor understanding of their diagnosis before and after the encounter regardless of how extensive the physician’s explanation or level of Spanish-proficiency. Second, patients were overwhelmed with the amount of information given to them. Lastly, patients ultimately put their trust in the physician, relying on them for treatment recommendations.
Conclusions: Our findings emphasize the difficulty Spanish-speaking women with low health literacy have in understanding information regarding pelvic floor disorders. In this specific population, the physician has a major role in influencing patients’ treatment decisions and helping them overcome fears they may have about their condition.