PROPEL: implementation of an evidence based pelvic floor muscle training intervention for women with pelvic organ prolapse: a realist evaluation and outcomes study protocol

Margaret Maxwell, Karen Semple, Sarah Wane, Andrew Elders, Edward Duncan, Purva Abhyankar, Joyce Wilkinson, Douglas Tincello, Eileen Calveley, Mary MacFarlane, Doreen McClurg, Karen Guerrero, Helen Mason, Suzanne Hagen

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Background: Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is estimated to affect 41%–50% of women aged over 40. Findings from the multi-centre randomised controlled “Pelvic Organ Prolapse PhysiotherapY” (POPPY) trial showed that individualised pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) was effective in reducing symptoms of prolapse, improved quality of life and showed clear potential to be cost-effective. However, provision of PFMT for prolapse continues to vary across the UK, with limited numbers of women’s health physiotherapists specialising in its delivery. Implementation of this robust evidence from the POPPY trial will require attention to different models of delivery (e.g. staff skill mix) to fit with differing care environments. Methods: A Realist Evaluation (RE) of implementation and outcomes of PFMT delivery in contrasting NHS settings will be conducted using multiple case study sites. Involving substantial local stakeholder engagement will permit a detailed exploration of how local sites make decisions on how to deliver PFMT and how these lead to service change. The RE will track how implementation is working; identify what influences outcomes; and, guided by the RE-AIM framework, will collect robust outcomes data. This will require mixed methods data collection and analysis. Qualitative data will be collected at four time-points across each site to understand local contexts and decisions regarding options for intervention delivery and to monitor implementation, uptake, adherence and outcomes. Patient outcome data will be collected at baseline, six months and one year follow-up for 120 women. Primary outcome will be the Pelvic Organ Prolapse Symptom Score (POP-SS). An economic evaluation will assess the costs and benefits associated with different delivery models taking account of further health care resource use by the women. Cost data will be combined with the primary outcome in a cost effectiveness analysis, and the EQ-5D-5L data in a cost utility analysis for each of the different models of delivery. Discussion: Study of the implementation of varying models of service delivery of PFMT across contrasting sites combined with outcomes data and a cost effectiveness analysis will provide insight into the implementation and value of different models of PFMT service delivery and the cost benefits to the NHS in the longer term.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017


  • pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic floor muscle training, implementation


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