Chronic pelvic pain is a prevalent and debilitating condition with a wide range of etiologies. An estimated 30% to 70% of chronic pelvic cases involve musculoskeletal component pain including high-tone pelvic floor dysfunction (HTPFD). Pelvic floor physical therapy has been shown to be a beneficial treatment for HTPFD, yet many patients do not have access to this treatment. The objective of this study was to identify the barriers preventing patients from following through with the first-line management, physical therapy. Participants with a diagnosis of HTPFD (n = 154) were identified from the list of referrals sent from the obstetrics and gynecology department to an affiliated PFPT center. Participants were contacted and asked to complete a phone survey addressing demographics and perceived barriers to care. Responses were collected in REDCap. Univariate and bivariate analyses were performed using a statistical analysis software.
Seventy surveys were completed. The top barriers identified by participants were financial constraints (51.4%), perceived lack of utility (37.1%), time constraints (30.0%), and travel issues (18.6%); 84.4% of participants had 1 or more comorbid pain condition. Whereas 51.4% expressed some level of anxiety regarding the PFPT option, only 9.6% of participants did not start treatment because of fear of treatment.
The majority of treatment barriers identified were concrete restraints, with insurance noncoverage and time constraints being the top issues. A fair number of participants expressed anxiety about the treatment or felt they received unclear explanations of the treatment. These are areas in which providers can potentially alleviate some barriers to care.