Barriers to Referral to Fellowship-trained Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Subspecialists

Ritchie Delara, Meenal Misal, Johnny Yi, Marlene Girardo, Megan Wasson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objective: To determine patterns and barriers for referral to fellowship-trained minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons. Design: Questionnaire. Setting: United States and its territories and Canada. Participants: Actively practicing general obstetrician/gynecologists (OB/GYNs). Interventions: Internet-based survey. Measurements and Main Results: Of 157 respondents, 144 (91.7%) general OB/GYNs were included. Subspecialty fellowship training resulted in the exclusion of 13 (8.3%) respondents. A total of 86 respondents (59.7%) considered referral to fellowship-trained minimally invasive gynecologic surgery (MIGS) subspecialists. The top 3 cited reasons for nonreferral were adequate residency training (n = 84, 58.3%), preference for continuity of care (n = 48, 33.3%), and preference for referral to other subspecialists (n = 46, 31.9%). The top 3 cited reasons for referral to MIGS subspecialists were complex pathology (n = 92, 63.9%), complex medical and/or surgical history (n = 76, 52.8%), and out of scope of practice (n = 53, 36.8%). If providers required intraoperative assistance, respondents consulted an OB/GYN colleague with comparable training (n = 50, 34.7%), gynecologic oncologist (n = 48, 33.3%), or non-OB/GYN surgical subspecialist (n = 33, 22.9%). Factors that were not associated with the decision to refer to MIGS subspecialists included years in practice (p = .13), additional training experiences beyond residency (p = .45), and number of hysterectomies performed by laparotomy (p = .69). Self-reported high-volume surgeons (p <.01) were less likely to refer. In contrast, providers who self-reported as low-volume surgeons (p = .02) and were aware of MIGS subspecialists in the community (p <.01) were more likely to consider referral. Respondents reported using a laparoscopic approach to hysterectomy most frequently (n = 79, 54.9%). In contrast, 36.8% preferred the laparoscopic route for themselves or their partner, whereas 48.6% preferred the vaginal approach. Conclusion: Most of the general OB/GYNs would consider referral to fellowship-trained MIGS subspecialists. Providers who reported adequate residency training and those who preferred continuity of care or referral to other surgical subspecialists were less likely to refer to MIGS subspecialists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-880
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Continuity of care
  • Fellowship
  • General gynecology
  • Referral barriers
  • Residency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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