Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders of women across the world. Rotterdam criteria defines PCOS diagnosis by having at least two of the three following symptoms: hyperandrogenism, ovulatory dysfunction, and polycystic ovaries. These symptoms are often but not exclusively accompanied by comorbidities characterized by insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, dyslipidemia and obesity. These symptoms increase risk of complications during pregnancy and chronic diseases later in life such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast and endometrial cancers. Currently there is limited data regarding the etiology of PCOS, which is why it is one of the most poorly understood disorders amongst patients and physicians . Presently, the first line of treatment is lifestyle intervention and weight loss. Weight loss of 5-15% has been shown to improve insulin resistance, decrease androgens and improve fertility . Furthermore, research has shown women with the most successful outcomes of PCOS treatment have met with a multidisciplinary team including a dietitian and health psychologist . Dietitians are often overlooked in the treatment of PCOS due to barriers such as patient lack of insurance coverage, lack of dietitians with PCOS specific knowledge, and lack of physician referrals. Current data approximates 15% of patients living with PCOS have met with a dietitian . This project aims to bridge this gap in care and increase access to nutrition therapy for PCOS amongst women of varying demographics across the Greater Houston area.
The proposed project would entail surveying current dietetic staff's knowledge and perceptions in medical nutrition management for PCOS. Once the surveys are completed, staff will participate in a specialized PCOS training course. Following education, the dietetic staff will be distributed an additional survey to assess knowledge. Once staff is fully trained, the program and services will be advertised to current UT Physician OBGYN providers located around the Greater Houston area with a succinct 2-3-minute video. Part of this advertisement will also include a brief pre and post survey assessing provider likelihood to refer their patients with PCOS to an RD. Lastly, referred patients to the program will be surveyed both before and after the initial meeting with a specialized RD to assess patient experience. We hypothesize that utilizing a specialized trained staff and improving provider visibility will increase patient access to quality nutrition care for PCOS.