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.
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.
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.
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.