Saturday, October 4, 2008

How Not to Write a Survey

Shortly after I saw the vulvodynia specialist in August, I received a survey for a study directed at vulvodynia patients. I thought, oh goodie! Someone is trying to figure us out!

I was wrong. Well, technically I was right: someone is trying to figure us out, but whether they're trying to figure out what causes our pain remains unclear.

After perfunctory questions about past treatments and levels of pain, the survey turns out to be mostly about how my pain makes me feel. What's more, the questions are emotionally difficult to answer:
  • Have you felt less physically or sexually attractive as a result of your vulvar or vaginal symptoms?
  • Have you felt less feminine as a result of your vulvar or vaginal symptoms?
  • How do your vulvar or vaginal symptoms affect your level of stress?
  • How do your vulvar or vaginal symptoms affect your self-esteem?
  • Do symptoms or conditions related to your vulva or vagina cause you to experience feelings of embarrassment?
  • Over the past 3 months, how satisfied have you been with your overall sexual life?
  • Over the past 3 months, how often did you feel sexual desire or interest?
  • Since my vulvar and vaginal symptoms began, my feelings of closeness to my partner are?
There's also a set of questions that looks like a depression evaluation, and there are some asking about the extent to which vulvar pain has inhibited the patient physically.

Not surprisingly, I broke down a few times while filling out the survey and had to put it away. I haven't sent it off yet and I don't know why. I guess in the back of my head I want to return it with a letter: first of all, this survey was distressing; secondly, what's the point? As if you don't already know that vulvar pain affects women this way?

...or maybe something more like YES, GENIUSES, MY VULVAR PAIN AFFECTS MY SELF-ESTEEM, SEXUAL DESIRE, AND STRESS LEVEL. POWERFUL INSIGHT HERE. I SMELL NOBEL.

Maybe the survey is necessary for the hospital to get or allocate funding to study vulvodynia. Sure. Because the fact that it's chronic pain of unknown origin isn't enough. They have to be certain it affects people's lives, too.

2 comments:

  1. I had to do one that asked me if my vagina or rectum ever fell out. FELL OUT!!!

    Now I'm afraid of that.

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  2. Haha, the midwife I saw said she had a patient whose vagina fell out! But I think she had had a lot of kids, so that made me feel a little less paranoid.

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