Primary care providers practice patterns regarding female pelvic floor disorders

Fam Med Community Health. 2024 Mar 14;12(1):e002448. doi: 10.1136/fmch-2023-002448.


Introduction: Pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) pose substantial physical and psychological burdens for a growing number of women. Given the ubiquity of these conditions and known patient reluctance to seek care, primary care providers (PCPs) have a unique opportunity to increase treatment and provide appropriate referrals for these patients.

Methods: An online survey was administered to PCPs to assess provider practices, knowledge, comfort managing and ease of referral for PFDs. Logistic regression was used to assess the association between demographic/practice characteristics of PCPs and two primary outcomes of interest: discomfort with management and difficulty with referral of PFDs.

Results: Of the 153 respondents to the survey, more felt comfortable managing stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and overactive bladder (OAB), compared with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and faecal incontinence (FI) and were less likely to refer patients with urinary symptoms. Few providers elicited symptoms for POP and FI as compared with SUI and OAB. Provider variables that were significantly associated with discomfort with management varied by PFD, but tended to correlate with less exposure to PFDs (eg, those with fewer years of practice, and internal medicine and family physicians as compared with geriatricians); whereas the factors that were significantly associated with difficulty in referral, again varied by PFD, but were related to practice characteristics (eg, specialist network, type of practice, practice setting and quantity of patients).

Conclusion: These findings highlight the need to increase PCPs awareness of PFDs and develop effective standardised screening protocols, as well as collaboration with pelvic floor specialists to improve screening, treatment and referral for patients with PFDs.

Keywords: Primary Health Care; Reproductive Health; Urology; Women's Health.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fecal Incontinence* / complications
  • Fecal Incontinence* / diagnosis
  • Fecal Incontinence* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders* / complications
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders* / therapy
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis* / complications
  • Primary Health Care
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive* / complications
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive* / diagnosis
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive* / therapy
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress* / complications
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress* / diagnosis
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress* / therapy