Urinary incontinence in Belgium; prevalence, correlates and psychosocial consequences

Acta Clin Belg. Jul-Aug 2002;57(4):207-18. doi: 10.1179/acb.2002.043.


This article describes the prevalence of urinary incontinence in the Belgian population and assesses factors associated with urinary incontinence. The significance of urinary incontinence as a public health problem is evaluated through its psychosocial consequences. The data comes from the participants of the 1997 national health survey in Belgium, 15 years and older, (n = 7266). The presence and frequency of the urinary incontinence was estimated through self-reporting using a standard questionnaire. The prevalence of urinary incontinence in the population was 1.4% in men and 4.6% in women ranging from less than 1% under the age of 25 years to 13% in males and 21% in females aged 75 years and older. The prevalence in women was higher in all age groups. The prevalence of frequent incontinence (at least once a week) was 0.8% in males and 2.4% in females. Over the age of 75 years 9.8% of the males and 7.9% of the females reported weekly incontinence. Factors associated with the incontinence were physical limitations, comorbidity, having a prostate problem or uterine prolapse, being obese. Further, the prevalence of urinary incontinence was higher in women reporting chronic urinary infection and with a sedentary lifestyle. The prevalence of subjective ill-health, of mental ill-health, of a low appreciation of social contacts and of a low functional content of social contacts was higher in subjects with urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is common in both men and women, especially in older ages. Urinary incontinence is associated with other health problems. The substantial psychosocial consequences of urinary incontinence stress the need for more public health and medical attention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Psychology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Urinary Incontinence / diagnosis
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / psychology*