Creating a more positive patient experience of pelvic examination




To explore through descriptive comparative analysis an alternative method of pelvic examination to increase patient comfort.

Data sources

Sixty-two participants were recruited from a convenience sample of patients at an ambulatory women's healthcare clinic operated by a teaching hospital in the Southwest United States. Twenty-five were examined using the conventional pelvic examination technique; 37 with a new technique that we call the Rad technique, named after a co-author of the study. Three women's health nurse practitioners were trained in both methods and alternated the exam technique used. Visualization of the cervix was measured by clinician responses to the Speculum Exam Questionnaire for Clinicians; level of pain was determined from patient responses to the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale. Results were analyzed using a t-test for independent samples. Pain was further analyzed using chi-square test of association.


Although the relationship between the variables of visualization and pain was not statistically significant, 16% of women in the conventional technique group reported vaginal pain compared with 5.4% in the Rad technique group.

Implications for practice

Changing from the conventional pelvic examination to the Rad technique may create a more positive patient experience and thereby engage more women in recommended in gynecological health care.