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March 2, 2020

Swansea University study reveals that health values can impact pelvic floor treatment

Swansea UniversityResearchers at Swansea have found that the value women put on their own health can have a direct effect on the success of medical treatment for pelvic floor problems.

Pelvic floor dysfunction – which can involve incontinence and prolapse – affects more than a quarter of all women in the UK and can be treated by physiotherapy. But according to the latest research carried out by Swansea University and Swansea Bay University Health Board, many women do not put their health first, and this results in them needing to have surgical intervention rather than reaping the benefits of physiotherapy. 

Professor Phil Reed, Chair in Psychology at Swansea University, and several health professionals carried out a study of over 200 women who had been referred for physiotherapy to treat pelvic floor dysfunction. The researchers discovered the strength of the women’s health-related values predicted their attendance, but only those patients who valued health for themselves – rather than because of what it allowed them to do for others – showed improvement.

Professor Reed explains, “The fact that holding strong health values is an important predictor of treatment attendance is no surprise, but the data show that many ladies place this aspect of their life lower than many other areas – and we need to help empower them to value their own health.”

Professor Reed continues, “Physiotherapy treatment for this very common problem can be so effective and safe for the patients, and it is really important that the ladies who attend have their needs fully recognised and supported. If we do that, then we will enhance attendance and outcomes for these patients, and stop them having to go for operations, which will also have the benefit of saving the NHS much-needed money that can then be used to help other patients.”

This study was conducted by Professor Phil Reed along with Dr Lisa A Osborne, Research Psychologist, C Mair Whittall, Clinical Physiotherapy Specialist in Women’s Health, Professor Simon Emery, Consultant Gynaecologist/Urogynaecologist, all from Swansea Bay University Health Board.

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Content added on 2nd March 2020. 

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