Aims: The aim of the study was to analyze the relations between severity of urinary incontinence (UI), defined as involuntary loss of urine considered to be a hygienic or social problem, and quality of life (QoL) among middle-aged French working women enrolled in a cohort study, while taking into account characteristics that may affect this relation.
Methods: Data came from self-administered mail questionnaires completed by 2,640 women aged 49-61 years in the GAZEL cohort of utility company employees. The analysis considered social and demographic characteristics, lifestyle, hormone status, and body mass index. We used bivariate and multivariate analysis to study the associations between UI severity (measured by SANDVIK's index) and QoL scales (Contilife, specific for UI, and the generic Nottingham Health Profile).
Results: The sample included 556 women (21%) with UI. QoL alterations associated with UI severity were observed for all six Contilife dimensions (daily and effort activities, self-image, emotional impact, sexuality, and well-being) and two dimensions of the NHP (pain and physical mobility). These results remain after adjustment for age, BMI, and living arrangements.
Conclusions: UI affects QoL even among women from a nonclinical population, and the more severe the UI, the more harmful the effect. These results raise the question of whether UI in its severe forms should be considered a disability because of its negative effects on mobility in daily life.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.