Objectives: To assess the proportion of women who consult their doctor about urinary incontinence (UI), and explore factors associated with help-seeking in France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
Methods: A representative sample of 29,500 women received a 13 item postal questionnaire to identify those with UI. A randomly selected sub-sample of 2953 women with UI received a more detailed follow-up questionnaire.
Results: There was a response rate of 58% in the initial survey and 53% in the second. Thirty-one percent of all women had consulted a doctor about their UI symptoms with more women consulting in France and Germany than in the UK and Spain. A number of factors relating to general health care, UI and women's attitudes were found to be associated with help-seeking after adjusting for women's age, UI duration and frequency, and 'bothersomeness' of UI; factors traditionally associated with help-seeking. After adjusting for these factors, willingness to take long-term medication and having spoken to others about UI were found to be strong predictors of help-seeking in all four countries.