Objectives: To assess the proportion of women who visit their doctor because of urinary incontinence and investigate factors associated with help-seeking.
Design: Postal invitation, questionnaire covering many health topics including urinary incontinence, received at a screening station.
Setting: The Norwegian EPINCONT Study is part of a large cross-sectional population-based survey performed in the county of Nord-Trøndelag during the period 1995-97.
Subjects: 6625 women (out of 27,936 participating women), 20 years or older, categorised as incontinent according to their answers to the questionnaire.
Results: 26% of the incontinent women had seen a doctor for their incontinence. Increasing age, impact, severity and duration were all significantly associated with consultation rate, as were urge and mixed types compared with stress incontinence, and having visited any doctor during the previous 12 months. Fifty percent of the women with significant incontinence (moderate/severe incontinence perceived as troublesome) had seen a doctor because of their incontinence.
Conclusions: Only a fourth of the women with any incontinence, and half of the women with significant incontinence had consulted a doctor. Older age and high impact of the symptoms were the factors most strongly associated with help-seeking.