International Organization of Physical Therapists in Pelvic and Women's Health (IOPTPWH)
An international group representing women’s health physiotherapists worldwide was the brainchild of Jill Boissonnault, USA physical therapist and former treasurer, education director and vice-president of the Section on Women’s Health of the American Physical Therapy Association. At the WCPT Congress in 1995 she was so inspired by the women's health speakers that she decided to investigate how physiotherapists in the specialty could come together and share knowledge. Over the next two and a half years she contacted every member organization of the WCPT, asking them to forward her queries to any women's health subgroups or special interest groups within their organizations. Further correspondence confirmed the status of these national subgroups, and whether they were interested in forming an official subgroup of the WCPT. Further work was required to ensure that all the requirements of subgroup formation were addressed. A constitution was drafted, and potential executive committee members were sought. Interested parties were asked for their opinion on a name for the proposed group, also considering WCPT recommendations.
By 1998 there was enough support to form an organization and to work on the necessary documentation to apply for subgroup status with WCPT. An inaugural meeting was planned for Yokohama, Japan in 1999 in conjunction with the WCPT congress there. An application for subgroup status was submitted and considered during the WCPT General Meeting, when WCPT member organizations accepted the application, making the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Women’s Health just the 3rd such subgroup.
The inaugural IOPTWH business meeting in Yokohama was attended by representatives of many countries including the founder members – USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Slovenia, Republic of Ireland and Israel. An executive committee comprising Jill Boissonnault (USA) – President; Kari Bø (Norway) – Vice President; Rebecca Stephenson (USA) – Secretary; Gill Brook (UK) – Treasurer; and Sue Jones (Australia) – Member-at-large was duly elected. The group went on to produce a mission statement and objectives for the Organization, on which to base their plans for the future. Since then IOPTWH membership has swelled to 25 countries.
The mission of the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Women's Health is to improve health care for women internationally through facilitation and promotion of best-practice women's health physical therapy.
- To foster cooperation between physical therapists practicing in women's health throughout the world.
- To encourage improved standards and consistency of practice in women's health care by physical therapists.
- To advance practice by communication and exchange of information.
- To encourage scientific research and promote opportunities for the spread of knowledge of new developments in the field of women's health.
- To assist WCPT member countries in the development of recognized Sub-sections in women's health.
The Organization’s membership comprises recognized women’s health (or obstetrics/gynecology) sub-sections of parent national physical therapy/physiotherapy organizations which are WCPT member organizations in good standing. More detailed information can be found in sections 4-6 of the IOPTWH Constitution. If you are a member of an officially recognized women’s health subgroup of a national association and want information on how your subgroup can become an official member of IOPTWH, kindly contact the IOPTWH secretary.
Individuals from countries not currently members of IOPTWH can become part of the Friends group by contacting the IOPTWH secretary. We do encourage individuals to form interest groups in women's health within their country if they do not currently exist.
IOPTWH is committed to offering educational opportunities and, to this end, the Organization has held a conference or course every four years. These have either been run as part of a WCPT Congress (pre-Congress course or satellite programme) or as a stand-alone event. Future courses and conferences will be advertised on this site, and by direct email contact to delegates and friends of the Organization.
IOPTWH produces a newsletter twice a year. Regular features include reports and news from the executive committee; announcement of conferences; reports from member organizations; book and video reviews; original research; and literature reviews. If you are interested in submitting an article, please contact the newsletter editor.