Medical and self-care practices reported by women with urinary incontinence

Am J Manag Care. 2004 Feb;10(2 Pt 1):69-78.


Objectives: To determine the extent to which women with incontinence have been identified by physicians, the coping and treatment strategies that incontinent women use, and the factors associated with treatment strategy utilization.

Study design: A 2-stage, nationwide, cross-sectional survey.

Methods: Survey participants were adult women from representative US households in NFO WorldGroup survey panels. Of 2310 incontinent women who received the second-stage detailed questionnaire, 1970 (85%) responded. Descriptive analyses were performed to determine the impact of incontinence, the proportion of respondents who had talked to a physician about incontinence, the responses of physicians to these incontinent women, and coping strategies used. We conducted logistic regressions to determine factors associated with treatment strategy utilization.

Results: Almost half of incontinent women considered their incontinence moderately to extremely bothersome, yet only 56% of the moderately to extremely bothered women had ever talked to a physician about incontinence. In 85% of all cases, the incontinent woman, rather than the physician, raised the issue of incontinence. Coping strategies women reported ever trying included limiting fluid intake (38%) and physical activity (21%). Kegel exercises and prescription medications were used currently by 20% and 6% of this population, respectively.

Conclusions: Among women of all ages, only about half of women bothered by incontinence have ever talked to a physician about it, and many incontinent women rely on strategies to avoid or conceal incontinence. A better understanding of the current use of coping and treatment strategies as well as the interaction between women and physicians regarding incontinence may help to inform efforts to optimize management of incontinence for women bothered by incontinence symptoms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Care*
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence / psychology
  • Urinary Incontinence / therapy*