Getting Men to Pelvic Rehab

In a study conducted in Western Sydney, Australia, researchers aimed to discover the barriers and enablers to attending preoperative pelvic floor muscle training for men scheduled for a radical prostatectomy. Semi-structured interviews were completed with referral sources (urological cancer surgeons, nurses, and general practitioners pelvic rehabilitation providers (physical therapists and continence nurses and male patients having surgery at a public and a private hospital.

Key factors that encouraged men to attend pelvic muscle training included having a referral from a provider that was for a specific therapist or center. Barriers to attending rehabilitation included potential cost of private pelvic floor muscle training, and lack of awareness about pelvic muscle rehab among both providers and patients. The providers were often not aware of public sector providers of pelvic muscle training, and patients were unaware of potential benefits of rehabilitation.

While the numbers of referrers (11 providers (14 and patients (13) do not represent a large population, the recorded and transcribed interview allowed the subjects to express themselves without constraint. Some of the providers described the challenge of patients getting lost between the general practitioner and the specialists, the physiotherapists stated that formal training for male pelvic rehab was lacking and that providers were in the habit of referring for women, rather than men, and that the physiotherapist had not made an attempt to market services for male rehabilitation.

Physicians also noted that they refer to pelvic floor rehabilitation because the current and emerging literature is so positive regarding preoperative pelvic muscle training. The patients who were given a specific referral (especially when convenient regarding location and making an appointment) were more likely to schedule rehabilitation.

From this research, we can ask some questions of our current practices. Is a therapist at your facility trained to treat male urinary incontinence? Are the providers and the community aware of your pelvic rehabilitation program? Are the providers aware of the research promoting preoperative physiotherapy for urinary incontinence post-prostatectomy? If you are interested in knowing more about this patient population, the Male Pelvic Floor Function, Dysfunction, and Treatment course takes place at the end of the month in California. In the course we discuss prostatectomies and post-operative recovery, male pelvic pain, and male sexual health.

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