Moreso, notes Maheer Khan, one of three project leads, the knowledge translation – health care system to CHBs – also became a case of knowledge transfer, as the CHBs provided the workshop leaders, facilitators and presenters with the important cultural perspectives of their patients.
With a training roster of health care experts including physicians, nurse continent advisors and physiotherapists, “the workshops were a great opportunity to translate knowledge from the health care system to the CHB,” says Maheer.
“The brokers were passionate about the topic and were motivated to learn more about PFD in order to better address the difficulties that their patients face in the community,” he continues. “This experience-sharing process gave us a better understanding of where the health system gaps are and great ideas on where to take this initiative next.”
Uncovering a debilitating disorder
Even before they held their first of two CHB training workshops, project mentor Dr. Annick Poirier (Clinical Lecturer, Urogynecology, Royal Alexandra Hospital) and the team of project leads (medical students Sarah Kent, Victoria Elliot and Maheer) knew of the effect of PFDs on the physical and mental health of millions of women world-wide, and that while conservative and surgical treatments exist, women often fail to seek help for these debilitating disorders that can cause urinary and fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain and fistulas.
“A lack of knowledge of PFD symptoms, as well as available treatments, is a major barrier to women accessing care for PFD,” Maheer explains, adding that research in the United States has shown that these knowledge deficits are significantly greater among non-white women. Additional research conducted locally by Dr. Poirier and Sarah was consistent, showing that immigrant and refugee women in Edmonton have less awareness of PFD and less access to treatment.
“We wanted to provide training on PFD to cultural health brokers (including developing and providing access to culturally relevant, evidence-based resources) for purposes of raising awareness and care-seeking behavior for PFDs among refugee and immigrant women,” says Victoria, of their project goal. “With the end result of potentially decreasing the associated physical, psychosocial and economic burdens associated with these disorders.”