245091 Understanding women's pelvic health issues from a social justice framework: How data availability on health disparities informs social inequities; and the role of core roots of health

Monday, October 31, 2011: 11:10 AM

Jennifer Hebert-Beirne, PhD, MPH , Community Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Anna Albrecht, MPH , Women's Health Foundation, Chicago, IL
While highly prevalent with one in three women experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction at some point in their lifetime, pelvic floor conditions are under-researched and under-appreciated in the United States especially in comparison to male pelvic dysfunction. Due to lack of education on these issues women suffer with pelvic disorders unaware of prevention or treatment options. Pelvic conditions are socially stigmatizing compromising health seeking behavior for treatment. Most women cope with their condition in silence increasing their risk for both aggressive treatment options and more debilitating conditions like obesity, diabetes and depression. This delayed care seeking, coping and co-morbidities result in excessive personal and healthcare system costs. Because these conditions are under-researched and because pelvic floor disorders generally don't discriminate by race/ethnicity, income or sexual orientation, disparity data on pelvic health conditions is scant. However, gross disparities exist on how women of different socio-economic and cultural context experience, cope and are treated for pelvic floor disorders; as well as how these conditions disproportionately impact life experiences, quality of life issues and overall health outcomes. A traditional, data-driven health disparities framework misses the complexity and impact of core roots of diseases like pelvic conditions and may emphasize narrow interventions that prove ineffective. A health equity framework broadens the understanding of significant contextual influences on women's health, the role of social determinants of health and points to less proximal but perhaps more effective intervention approaches to improve women's pelvic and overall health.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
To describe the role that women's pelvic health disorders play on larger health and societal inequities To explain how a health equity framework enhances our understanding of social inequities relating to women's health issues.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author because I co-developed the conceptual material for the presentation
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.