244658 Pelvic health knowledge, perceptions and behavior among urban adolescent females

Monday, October 31, 2011: 1:30 PM

Jennifer Hebert-Beirne, PhD, MPH , Community Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Missy Lavender, MBA , Women's Health Foundation, Chicago, IL
Rachel O'Conor, BS , Community Health Sciences, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background/Significance: Female pelvic disorders, such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and pelvic organ prolapse, are common; yet many women remain uninformed about basic female anatomy, muscular and organ function related to their own pelvis. Insufficient knowledge leaves women ill-prepared for common pelvic-related life events such as menarche, sexual activity, childbirth, menopause and the effects of aging. Given that risk of pelvic disorders increasing with age, this knowledge deficit likely impacts not only perception of health condition, but treatment preferences. Objectives/Purpose: This study assesses effectiveness of an early educational intervention to improve adolescent females' knowledge, perceptions and behavior of pelvic health -conceived as bladder, bowel, uterine and vaginal health- through an interactive curriculum delivered in the school. Methods: This 3-site, prospective study uses survey research methodology, observation and group debriefing questions to discern baseline knowledge, perceptions and behavior of pelvic health; and assess knowledge acquisition and adoption of healthy behaviors post intervention. This 1-hour per week 6-week intervention is delivered by trained health educators. Results: Baseline data suggest both limited pelvic health knowledge and an over-reliance on myths promoted by peer social networks. Participants, eager for information, demonstrate gaps in knowledge beyond that captured in pre-intervention surveys through in-class questions and written anonymous questions. Discussions/Conclusions: In the absence of education on normal body function young women may adapt negative perceptions and unhealthy pelvic health behaviors that can compromise long term health. Early educational intervention arms young women with information and may empower them to make and sustain healthy behaviors.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
To describe the need for pelvic health education among adolescents to support the development of healthy behaviors across the lifespan. To identify gaps in knowledge of pelvic issues among this sample of urban adolescent young women.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as Principal Investigator of this study and Director of Research at WHF
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.