In order to refer patients to needed care, it is vital that health care providers understand the roles that each provider plays. Within pelvic rehabilitation, this issue presents barriers and opportunities, as many providers do not know about pelvic rehabilitation, and about the wide scope of care that we can provide towards bowel, bladder, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain in men, women, and children. An article written by a physiotherapist and published in the British Journal of Midwifery highlights the issues such barriers can cause. Utilizing a focus group of seven 3rd year midwifery students, a researchers asked questions about student midwives' perceptions of the physiotherapist's role in obstetrics. Five distinct themes were proposed as a result of the focus group interviews:
1. Role recognition: in order to enable services for patients, understanding other professional roles is valuable.
2. Lack of knowledge: participants expressed a lack of knowledge about the physiotherapy role, and the students wondered if they should be seeking out that knowledge, or if the physiotherapists should be educating the midwives about their role. Prior inter professional education opportunities, which provides the students with potential for understanding other professions, were not viewed as positive by the students.
3. Perceived views existed: Although participants did not have a clear view of what a physiotherapist's role is in obstetrics, they had developed ideas (accurate or not) about the role. 4. Utilization of physiotherapy: Numerous barriers to utilization of physiotherapy in obstetrics rehabilitation were identified, and variations in referrals and utilization of PT were noted. 5. Benefits of physiotherapy: Participants' lack of knowledge, lack of feedback from patients, and issues such as waiting periods prior to getting care limited the stated benefits of physiotherapy care in obstetrics.
In order to avoid working independently of each other, physical therapists and midwives, along with other care providers for women, must understand the complementary roles we play. One of the best ways that we can create a shared understanding is through spending time in each other's educational or clinical environments. Each of us can take responsibility for providing some level of education towards teaching other providers what we do, what we know, and how we can collaborate. One of the ways that the Institute attempts to make this task easier is to provide you with presentations that are already created for this purpose. Our "What is Pelvic Rehab?" powerpoint presentation allows you to edit the slides created for referring providers. Within the presentation, basic information about pelvic therapy and specific research about pelvic rehabilitation for various conditions is combined. To check out the "What is Pelvic Rehab?" presentation and other patient and provider education materials, head to the Products and Resources page and see what information may help you (and your patients) share information about the role of the pelvic rehabilitation provider in collaboration with other health professionals.