To evaluate inter- and intrarater reliability of unidigital and bidigital vaginal palpation of pelvic floor muscle (PFM) maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) according to PFM risk factors and dysfunctions.
A total of 187 women were recruited and evaluated by two examiners. Both performed the evaluation of MVC with unidigital and bidigital palpation, graded by Modified Oxford Scale. After 7-10 days, one examiner repeated the assessment. To analyze reliability by Cohen’s linear Kappa (κw), participants were allocated into different groups according to: body mass index (BMI), menopause, parity, type of delivery and PFM dysfunctions, as pelvic organ prolapse (POP), constipation, urgency, urgency urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and stress urinary incontinence.
Inter-rater reliability of unidigital palpation was considered fair (κw = 0.21-0.40) to moderate (κw = 0.41-0.60) according to BMI, postmenopausal status, parity, type of delivery, and PFM dysfunctions. Inter-rater reliability of bidigital palpation varied from none (κw = 0.00-0.20) to moderate for all risk factors and PFM dysfunctions. Intra-rater reliability of unidigital palpation was considered fair only for women with POP (κw = 0.37) and moderate to substantial (κw = 0.61-0.80) to all other variables. Intra-rater reliability of bidigital palpation ranged from moderate to almost perfect (κw = 0.81-1.00).
When performing vaginal palpation, physiotherapists must consider the way that is performing the evaluation, as some PFM risk factors and dysfunctions could influence the inter- and intrarater reliability of unidigital and bidigital palpation.
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