Experiences of Physical Therapists Working with Women with Chronic Pelvic Pain: A PHenomenological Qualitative Study

Steve Wiley, J Timothy Zipple, Karen Elizabeth horwood Grossnickle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) impacts 15% to 25% of women ages 15 to 73 years and is the most common referring diagnosis to women's health services worldwide. Physical therapy has demonstrated promise for managing CPP. There is a paucity of research investigating the experiences of physical therapists working with women with chronic pelvic pain (WWCPP). Objective: The objective of this study was to illuminate the lived experiences of physical therapists working with WWCPP. Study Design: A qualitative phenomenological study was conducted. Methods: Ten licensed physical therapists treating WWCPP as at least 25% of their annual caseload participated in the study. Data were collected from demographic questionnaires, current résumés, and semistructured interviews using a case vignette. Data analysis included a résumé sort and 6-step data reduction process. Results: Four linked themes emerged: (1) critical reflection and adaptive expertise, (2) the Gestalt experience, (3) perceptual beliefs and attitudes toward the women they treat, and (4) wholeness in the biopsychosocial model of health care. Conclusion: The lived experiences of physical therapists working with WWCPP revealed a complex integration of clinical reasoning, critical reflection, and adaptive expertise while concomitantly employing the principles of the biopsychosocial model and a patient-centered approach to care management for WWCPP. Physical therapists believed they constructed positive therapeutic relationships and held overall positive attitudes about WWCPP that enhanced overall outcomes for the women. Future studies should explore whether the positive therapeutic relationship and attitudes identified by participants in this study are recognized by WWCPP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-72
JournalJournal of Women's Health Physical Therapy
Volume43
Issue number2
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 2019

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