Mixed feelings: general practitioners' attitudes towards eHealth for stress urinary incontinence - a qualitative study.

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is the most prevalent subtype of urinary incontinence and is a bothering condition in women. Only a minority of those with SUI consult a general practitioner (GP). EHealth with pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is effective in reducing incontinence symptoms and might increase access to care. The role of the GP regarding such an eHealth intervention is unknown. The aim of the study is to gain insight into the attitudes towards a PFMT internet-based, eHealth, intervention for SUI.

A qualitative study was conducted. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews among purposively sampled GPs. Audio records were fully transcribed, and analysed thematically.

Thirteen GPs were interviewed, nine females and four males. Three themes emerged: appraisal of eHealth as a welcome new tool, mixed feelings about a supportive role, and eHealth is no cure-all. GPs welcomed eHealth for SUI as matching their preferences for PFMT and having advantages for patients. With eHealth as stand-alone therapy GPs were concerned about the lack of feedback, and the loss of motivation to adhere to the intervention. Therefore, GPs considered personal support important. The GP's decision to recommend eHealth was strongly influenced by a woman's motivation and her age. GPs' treatment preferences for elderly are different from those for young women with SUI; both PFMT and eHealth are perceived less suitable for older women.

EHealth with PFMT fits into the GPs' routine practice of SUI and adds value to it. Although there is evidence that eHealth as a stand-alone intervention is effective, GPs consider personal support important to supplement the perceived shortcomings. Probably GPs are not aware of, or convinced of the existing evidence. Training should address this issue and should also focus on common misunderstandings about regular care for women with SUI, such as the idea that PFMT is not suitable for the elderly. Improving GPs' knowledge that eHealth can be a stand-alone therapy for SUI facilitates the implementation in daily care.

BMC family practice. 2019 Jan 26*** epublish ***

Lotte Firet, Chrissy de Bree, Carmen M Verhoeks, Doreth A M Teunissen, Antoine L M Lagro-Janssen

Department of Primary and Community Care, Unit Gender in Primary and Transmural Care, Radboud university medical center, Geert Grooteplein 21, 6500, HB, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. ., Department of Primary and Community Care, Unit Gender in Primary and Transmural Care, Radboud university medical center, Geert Grooteplein 21, 6500, HB, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

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