Objective: To establish the prevalence of urinary incontinence in non-institutionalized Dutch women and determine the consequences of urinary incontinence for their quality of life.
Design: Cross sectional questionnaire survey.
Method: A random sample of 1905 women aged 45-70 years of the population of Zeist, the Netherlands, were sent a questionnaire. Generic quality of life was measured with the RAND-36 and disease specific quality of life was measured with a Dutch translation of the Urogenital Distress Inventory (UDI) and Incontinence Impact Questionnaire (IIQ). Based on the answers to the questionnaire four groups of women were formed: no incontinence, only stress, only urge or a combination of stress and urge incontinence. These 4 groups were compared as to questionnaire scores.
Results: A total of 1086 questionnaires could be analysed. The prevalence of urinary incontinence was 57.1%: 28.7% stress incontinence, 5.6% urge incontinence and 22.7% both. Of those who reported urinary incontinence 6% were severely inconvenienced by it. Women with urinary incontinence reported a decrease in physical functioning and vitality as compared with women without incontinence (RAND-36). Especially women with urge or a combination of stress and urge incontinence had more severe impairment of their quality of life as compared to women with only stress incontinence.
Conclusion: The prevalence of urinary incontinence is higher than it is usually reported. Especially the urge component affects the quality of life in a negative way.