Date of Defense:
May 29, 2015
Objective: To evaluate the knowledge of female genital cutting and its influence on clinical practice among women’s health practitioners in the United States.
Methods: A 46 – question survey was completed by 508 healthcare providers who are members of various national organizations.
Results: Most participants (87%, n=444) could not correctly identify the different forms of Female Genital Cutting (FGC), yet the majority of respondents (60%, n=305) had previously provided care to a patient who had undergone FGC. Only 12% of respondents felt comfortable performing surgical defibulation procedures. Four aspects were found to be statistically significant – The first was being either an Obstetrician/Gynecologist or Midwife (p<0.001), prior exposure to any FGC training materials (p<0.001), having direct clinical care experience with an FGC – affected woman (p<0.001), and having knowledge of the cultural underpinnings and regions where FGC is practiced (p<0.05) Most respondents (81%) reported a desire for additional education on FGC, specifically, counseling and technical guidelines on the clinical/surgical management of FGC. Approximately one – fifth of respondents added they were eager to learn of the study results, as they felt FGC was an important topic that was not adequately addressed in today’s clinical practice.
Conclusion: Despite the recognized need for training and the availability of educational tools, gaps appear to s till exist in postgraduate training programs regarding the provision of adequate didactics on the clinical evaluation and subsequent care of FGC – affected populations. There is also a general lack of knowledge and lack of confidence that persists, particularly regarding surgical defibulation techniques. Our data indicate that exposure to FGC training materials, as well as direct clinical care encounters with FGC – affected patients, does predict increased knowledge and resultant clinical competency in the provision of medical care to FGC – affected populations.