Current usage of qualitative research in female pelvic pain: a systematic review

  • Bruna Helena Mellado
  • Taynara Louisi Pilger
  • Omero Benedicto Poli-Neto
  • Julio Cesar Rosa e Silva
  • Antonio Alberto Nogueira
  • Francisco José Candido dos ReisEmail author



Qualitative research has received growing attention in the multidisciplinary investigation of patients' perceptions about chronic diseases. The purpose of this systematic review was to characterize the usage of qualitative research in women with chronic pelvic pain (CPP).


We performed a structured search in Web of Science, Pubmed, and EMBASE platforms until June 2019. The search combined the keywords: "pelvic pain", "endometriosis", "dyspareunia", "dysmenorrhea", "vaginismus", "focus groups", "qualitative research", "hermeneutics", "grounded theory", and "women". Qualitative studies on female CPP were included and the main findings combined using thematic synthesis.


We found 1211 citations, of which 52 were included in this review. The majority of included studies were based on phenomenological design. The main method for data collection was semi-structured interviews. Endometriosis was the theme of 23 studies, chronic pelvic pain of eight, dysmenorrhea of eight, dyspareunia of four, interstitial cystitis of two, vaginismus of two, vulvodynia of two, and pelvic inflammatory disease of one study. We found a wide variety of contributions. Among them, the impact of the disease on women's lives was the commonest.


Qualitative research has the potential to reveal and explain several aspects of CPP in women. The medical community may better accept knowledge gained from these studies if the methods are described more transparently in published articles.


Pelvic pain Qualitative research Interviews Endometriosis 


Author contributions

BHM protocol development, data collection, data analysis, and manuscript editing. TLP protocol development and data collection. OBPN, JCRS, and AAN manuscript editing. FJCR protocol development, data collection, data analysis, and manuscript writing.


FJCR (Grant No. 304424/2015-3) was funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). BHM (Grant No. 23038.000832/2018-31) was funded by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest related to the contents of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruna Helena Mellado
    • 1
  • Taynara Louisi Pilger
    • 1
  • Omero Benedicto Poli-Neto
    • 1
  • Julio Cesar Rosa e Silva
    • 1
  • Antonio Alberto Nogueira
    • 1
  • Francisco José Candido dos Reis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de Ginecologia e Obstetrícia, Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão PretoUniversidade de São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil

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