Objective: To determine the prevalence, type and treatment behaviour of women with urinary incontinence in four European countries.
Subjects and methods: Data were collected using a postal survey which was sent to 29,500 community-dwelling women aged > or = 18 years in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Subjects were asked about the type of urinary incontinence they had experienced and their treatment behaviour.
Results: Of the women who responded, 35% reported involuntary loss of urine in the preceding 30 days; stress urinary incontinence was the most prevalent type. The lowest prevalence was in Spain (23%), while the prevalence was 44%, 41% and 42% for France, Germany and the UK, respectively. About a quarter of women with urinary incontinence in Spain (24%) and the UK (25%) had consulted a doctor about it; in France (33%) and Germany (40%) the percentages were higher. Overall, <5% of the women had ever undergone surgery for their condition. While pads were used by half of the women, there were some differences among the countries.
Conclusions: Millions of women in Europe have urinary incontinence; the consultation and treatment rates were low in the European countries included in this study.