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'A hidden disorder until the pieces fall into place': a qualitative study of vaginal prolapse
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
2010 (English)In: BMC Women's Health, ISSN 1472-6874, E-ISSN 1472-6874, Vol. 10, no 1, 18- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Vaginal prolapse affects quality of life negatively and is associated with urinary, bowel, and sexual symptoms. Few qualitative studies have explored women's experiences of vaginal prolapse. The objective of the study was to elucidate the experiences of living with prolapse and its impact on daily life, prior to surgical intervention.

METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted with 14 women with vaginal prolapse, prior to surgical treatment. Recruitment of the informants was according to 'purposive sampling'. An interview guide was developed, including open-ended questions addressing different themes, which was processed and revised during the data collection and constituted part of a study-emergent design. Data were collected until 'saturation' was achieved, that is, when no significant new information was obtained by conducting further interviews. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed according to manifest and latent content analysis.

RESULTS: The theme defining the process of living with prolapse and women's experiences was labelled 'process of comprehension and action'. The findings constitute two categories: obstacles and facilitators to seeking health care. The category obstacles comprises six subcategories that define the factors restraining women from seeking health care: absence of information, blaming oneself, feeling ignored by the doctor, having a covert condition, adapting to successive impairment, and trivializing the symptoms and de-prioritizing own health. The category facilitators include five subcategories that define the factors promoting the seeking of health care: confirmation and support by others, difficulty in accepting an ageing body, feeling sexually unattractive, having an unnatural body, and reaching the point of action.

CONCLUSION: The main theme identified was the 'process of comprehension and action'. This process consisted of factors functioning as either obstacles or facilitators to seeking health care. The main obstacles described by the participants were lack of information and confirmation. The main facilitators constituted feeling sexually unattractive and impaired physical ability due to prolapse. Information on prolapse should be easily accessible, to improve the possibility for women to gain knowledge about the condition and overcome obstacles to seeking health care. Health care professionals have a significant role in facilitating the process by confirming and informing women about available treatment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 10, no 1, 18- p.
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Research subject
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-34598DOI: 10.1186/1472-6874-10-18ISI: 000208607500018PubMedID: 20497526OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-34598DiVA: diva2:323071
Note
Epub ahead of printAvailable from: 2010-06-09 Created: 2010-06-09 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Vaginal prolapse – clinical outcomes and patients’ perspectives: a study using quantitative and qualitative methods
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vaginal prolapse – clinical outcomes and patients’ perspectives: a study using quantitative and qualitative methods
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a relatively common condition. In Sweden, the overall estimated prevalence of POP in the female population is 31% and the prevalence of symptomatic prolapse is 8–15%. The prevalence of POP increases with age. The lifetime risk of undergoing pelvic floor surgery is estimated to 11%.

The aim of this thesis was to investigate outcomes of vaginal hysterectomy for treatment of prolapse; to study outcomes of cystocele repair surgery and patient satisfaction related to different anaesthesia methods; to explore women’s experiences of vaginal prolapse; and to investigate what is known regarding POP prior to surgery and healthcare-seeking behaviour.

Methods: In the Swedish National Quality Register for Gynaecological Surgery (Gynop-register), 941 women were identified who underwent vaginal hysterectomy for prolapse from 1997 to 2005 and 1,364 women were identified who underwent cystocele repair surgery from 2006 to 2009. In-depth interviews were performed with 14 women with vaginal prolapse. Interview data were analyzed with a qualitative content analysis. To investigate women’s knowledge about POP and healthcare-seeking behaviour, a questionnaire was developed, validated and distributed to women with planned surgery for POP. Women undergoing hysterectomy or incontinence surgery were used as reference groups.

Results: Severe complications after vaginal hysterectomy occurred in 3% of cases. Sexual activity was improved after vaginal hysterectomy, the number of women reported to have intercourse increased by 20% (p = 0.006). Subjective symptoms of urinary incontinence and overactive bladder were resolved in 50% of the women. De novo stress incontinence was reported by 11% of the women.

Use of local anaesthesia (LA) in reconstruction of cystocele showed advantage over other forms of anaesthesia. Length of hospital stay, duration of use of postoperative pain-killing drugs, and time to return to daily activity were shorter among women who underwent surgery with LA compared to other forms of anaesthesia. Patient satisfaction was not related to methods of anaesthesia.

In an interview study, the process from recognition the symptoms to seeking healthcare was highlighted. Two categories, “obstacles” and “facilitators” to seeking health care, were identified. One of the obstacles was lack of information on POP in the public domain. The main facilitators were feeling sexually unattractive and impaired physical ability due to POP.

Some findings from the interview study were further explored in the questionnaire study. One out of five women with vaginal prolapse did not know that the symptoms were related to prolapse before consulting their physician. Over 30% of the women in the incontinence group were embarrassed to talk about incontinence, and they were unaware that it could be treated. The most frequent description of vaginal prolapse was vaginal bulging. Women in the prolapse group had significantly less access to information through brochures and public media than women in the incontinence group (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Short-term follow-up after vaginal hysterectomy showed that sexual activity and urinary symptoms had improved. Cystocele surgery using LA showed no disadvantage compared to surgery using other anaesthesia methods. POP surgery can therefore be performed safely with LA. Information on prolapse should be easily accessible to improve the possibility for women of gaining knowledge and thereby overcoming obstacles to seeking medical advice. Healthcare professionals have a significant role to play in informing women about symptoms and available treatment options.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2011. 69 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1405
Keyword
Vaginal prolapse, national register, pelvic organ prolapse surgery, anaesthesia, knowledge about prolapse, experience, qualitative content analysis, questionnaire
National Category
Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine
Research subject
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-40613 (URN)978-91-7459-153-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-03-25, Bergasalen, by 27, Norrlands universitetssjukhus, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-03-04 Created: 2011-03-02 Last updated: 2011-03-04Bibliographically approved

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