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Do Women Understand Urogynecologic Terminology?

Senekjian, Lara BS; Heintz, Kristina RN*; Egger, Marlene J. PhD; Nygaard, Ingrid MD, MS

Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery: September-October 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 5 - p 215-217
doi: 10.1097/SPV.0b013e31822dcffe
Original Articles

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.

Although most women reported knowing the meaning of the term urinary incontinence, a minority knew the term pelvic floor disorder.

From the *Health Sciences Center and Departments of †Family and Preventive Medicine and ‡Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

Reprints: Ingrid Nygaard, MD, MS, Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Utah School of Medicine, 50 N Medical Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84132-0001. E-mail:

Lara Senekjian is fourth-year medical student at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Supported by the Eunice Kennedy Schriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD057895-01).

The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose.

© 2011 by Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins