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Women’s Health Physio: What are the barriers to accessing this service in the Limestone Coast?

The results are in from our recent survey about the barriers to accessing women’s health (WH) physiotherapy services in the Limestone Coast! Thank you to all those who participated.

Of the 70 people we surveyed:

37% of respondents had not heard of women’s health physiotherapy

While 6 in 10 people were unsure or did not know the role of a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

When asked to rate the barriers preventing respondents from accessing women’s health physiotherapy services, ‘not knowing where to access the service’ (WH physiotherapy) was rated the highest at 74% (average score). This was followed by:

- ‘poor understanding of the role of WH physiotherapy’ (73%)

- ‘cost’ (65%).

- ‘apprehension about what the appointment involves and feeling uncomfortable with internal examinations’ (62%).

- ‘wait time’ (54%).

The most prevalent conditions in those surveyed were:

- Leakage from bladder/bowel (26%)

- Pain in lower back or pelvis during pregnancy (19%)

- Pain or discomfort during sex (17%)

- Pain in lower abdomen or vagina region (11%)

- Separation of abdominal muscles (10%)

- Heaviness sensation or bulging in vagina (7%)

- Endometriosis (6%)

Those who had received treatment for these conditions rated

women’s health physiotherapy as 86.5% beneficial.

This indicates a high need to address these barriers to improve the quality of life of women living on the Limestone Coast.

We also surveyed 17 local health professionals to investigate their perception of barriers to accessing women’s health physiotherapy.

70.6% of practitioners had encountered patients with WH complaints. However, they only referred WH patients on to WH physiotherapy 58.7% of the time.

While 75% of health professionals understood the role of women’s health physiotherapy, 16.7% were ‘somewhat’ sure and 8.3% did not. The main barriers to referral were reported to be ‘lack of available services’ and ‘not in my scope of practice or patient population’.

Top barriers they believed were limiting patients’ accessing women’s health physiotherapy include ‘cost’ and ‘lack of understanding of WH physio’, followed equally by ‘travel time’ and ‘wait time’.

In terms of assessing women’s health patients, only 10% of referring practitioners felt ‘very confident’, 60% were ‘somewhat confident’ while the remaining 30% were ‘not confident at all’.

No referring practitioners felt ‘very confident’ treating women’s health patients, 30% were ‘fairly confident’, 30% ‘a little confident’ and 40% reporting they were ‘not confident at all’.

This highlights the importance of seeing a Women’s Health Physiotherapist who is trained to assess and treat issues such as bladder and bowel leakage, pelvic and back pain during pregnancy and pain or discomfort during sex.

Following these results, we have decided to run a

Women’s Health Information Week from the 17th of October

through Good Country Physiotherapy’s social media pages.

Our aim is to provide education about

- What women’s health physiotherapy is

- What an appointment involves

- Where these services are available

- Common conditions a Women’s Health Physiotherapist can help with

Keep an eye on Good Country Physiotherapy’s online pages this week (website, newsletter, Instagram, Facebook) to learn more.

In the meantime, if you think a Women’s Health Physiotherapist could help you, please don’t hesitate to contact our clinic to book an appointment.

Our friendly Women’s Health Physiotherapists Chelsey and Naomi are currently welcoming new appointments in:

Naracoorte (Naomi & Chelsey) | Phone: 8762 1515

Bordertown (Naomi) |Phone: 8752 2330

Kingston SE & Millicent (Chelsey) | Phone: 8767 4600


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