Lead Author: HOLUSZKO, Olivia
Year published: 2023

Background: Comprehensive and appropriate health care provision to women and girls with female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) is lacking. Use of visuals in health care provider (HCP) consultations facilitates the communication of health information and its comprehension by patients. A web app featuring a 3D visualization of the genitourinary anatomy was developed to support HCPs in conferring clinical information about FGM/C to patients.

Objective: The aim of this study was to explore HCP perspectives on the use of visuals in discussion about FGM/C with their patients as well as to obtain their feedback on whether an interactive 3D web app showing the genitourinary anatomy would be helpful in patient consultations about FGM/C, identifying key features that are relevant to their clinical practice.

Methods: We evaluated the web app through a semistructured interview protocol with seven HCPs from various disciplines experienced in care for women and girls with FGM/C in migration-destination settings. Interviews were audio- and video-recorded for transcription, and were then analyzed thematically for contextualized data regarding HCPs' willingness to use a 3D web app visualizing anatomy in FGM/C consultations with patients.

Results: All but one of the seven participants expressed keen interest in using this web app and its 3D visuals of anatomy in FGM/C consultations with patients. Participants shared the common contexts for the use of visuals in health care for FGM/C and the concepts they are used to support, such as to help describe a patient's genitals after FGM/C and reinforce an understanding of clitoral anatomy, to illustrate the process of defibulation, or to explain the physiological effects of FGM/C. Participants also highlighted the benefit of using visuals that patients can relate to, expressing approval for the ability to customize the vulva by FGM/C subtype, skin tone, and complexity of the visual shown in the web app. Despite critiques that the visualization may serve to perpetuate idealistic standards for how a vulva should look, participants largely agreed on the web app's perceived usefulness to clinical practice and beyond.

Conclusions: Evaluation of the web app developed in this study identified that digital tools with 3D models of the genitourinary anatomy that are accessible, informative, and customizable to any specific patient are likely to aid HCPs in communicating clinical information about FGM/C in consultations. Universal access to the web app may be particularly useful for HCPs with less experience in FGM/C. The app also prompts options for applications such as for personal use, in medical education, in patient medical records, or in legal settings. Further qualitative research with patients is required to confirm that adoption of the web app by HCPs in a consultation setting will indeed benefit patient care for women and girls with FGM/C.