271132 Adolescent pelvic health education: Preparing young women for lifecourse experiences with credible, medical, accessible guidance

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 5:21 PM - 5:38 PM

Jennifer Hebert-Beirne, PhD, MPH , Community Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Rachel O'Conor, BS , Community Health Sciences, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL
Jeni Ihm , Women's Health Foundation, Chicago, IL
Molly Kirk Parlier , Women's Health Foundation, Chicago, IL
Missy Lavender, MBA , Women's Health Foundation, Chicago, IL
Background: Despite the emergence of female pelvic floor disorders (PFD), (e.g., urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse) as public health concerns due to their prevalence, cost and impact on women's quality of life, most women are unsure of basic pelvic anatomy, muscular/organ function and care seeking. Common life events including menarche, sexual activity, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause have enormous pelvic health implications. While the number and severity of PFDs increase with age, pelvic conditions appear in adolescence as urinary tract, yeast, sexually transmitted infections, chronic constipation and menstrual-related conditions. Basic pelvic health education, currently nonexistent, may prepare young women to prevent or cope with PFDs and/or to improve healthcare seeking. Purpose: This study explored adolescent females' knowledge, perceptions and behaviors related to pelvic health (i.e., bladder, bowel, uterine, vaginal health and pelvic muscles/structures) through a school-based curriculum. Methods: A multisite, pre-post staged-intervention study design assessed baseline knowledge, perceptions and behaviors and post intervention change among female adolescents at three geographically-diverse urban schools with a curriculum adapted from a community-based women's health promotion program and tailored for cultural relevancy. Results: Baseline data suggests research participants had very little knowledge of their bodies, pelvic function nor pelvic conditions. Statistically significant post-intervention improvements were made in the intervention versus the delayed-intervention group for all knowledge and most behavior questions. Conclusions: Short-term pelvic health educational interventions may be effective at building knowledge in young women with which to navigate lifecourse events, prevent future PFDs, and establish/ sustain healthy behaviors toward overall pelvic health.

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

Learning Objectives:
Discuss gaps in knowledge among urban adolescent youth about their pelvic health. List risks to lack of pelvic health education on youth's risk taking behavior. Name advantages to early educational intervention to improve young women's abilities to navigate puberty, sexual activity, pregnancy, childbirth and menapause.

Keywords: Adolescents, Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Served as the Principal Investigator of this study and was responsible for all aspects of the delivery of intervention, data collection and analysis
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.