The effect of behavioral therapy on urinary incontinence: a randomized controlled trial

Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Jul;100(1):72-8. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(02)01993-2.


Objective: To evaluate the effect of a low-intensity behavioral therapy program on urinary incontinence in older women.

Methods: A randomized clinical trial for community-dwelling women at least 55 years reporting at least one urinary incontinent episode per week was conducted. Women were randomly assigned to a behavioral therapy group (n = 77) or a control group (n = 75). The treatment group had six weekly instructional sessions on bladder training and followed individualized voiding schedules. The control group received no instruction but kept urinary diaries for 6 weeks. After this period, the control group underwent the behavioral therapy protocol. Using per-protocol analyses, t and chi(2) tests were used to compare the treatment and control groups, and paired t tests were used to evaluate the efficacy of behavioral therapy for all women (treatment and control groups before and after behavioral therapy).

Results: Women in the treatment group experienced a 50% reduction in mean number of incontinent episodes recorded on a 7-day urinary diary compared with a 15% reduction for controls (P =.001). After behavioral therapy, all women had a 40% decrease in mean weekly incontinent episodes (P =.001), which was maintained over 6 months (P <.004). Thirty (31%) women were 100% improved (dry), 40 (41%) were at least 75% improved, and 50 (52%) at least 50% improved. There were no differences in treatment efficacy by type of incontinence (stress, urge, mixed) or group assignment (treatment, control).

Conclusion: A low-intensity behavioral therapy intervention for urinary incontinence was effective and should be considered as a first-line treatment for urinary incontinence in older women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Reference Values
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Incontinence / psychology
  • Urinary Incontinence / therapy*