Background: many elderly suffer from urinary incontinence and use absorbent pads. Pad use per day (PPD) is a frequently used measure of urinary incontinence. Nursing home residents are often dependent on help from nursing staff to change pads. This study was performed in order to determine whether PPD is a reliable method to quantify urinary incontinence in nursing home residents. Furthermore, the association between urinary tract infections (UTIs), PPD and fluid intake was studied.
Methods: data were retrieved from a multicentre, prospective surveillance among nursing home residents. Data on the use of absorbent pads, fluid intake and incontinence volumes were collected during 48 h. During a 1-year follow-up period, data on UTIs were collected.
Results: in this study, 153 residents were included, of whom 118 (77%) used absorbent pads. Residents who used absorbent pads were at increased risk of developing UTIs compared to residents who did not use pads (41 vs 11%; P = 0.001). Daily fluid intake was not associated with UTIs (P = 0.46). The number of pad changes showed no correlation with the risk of developing UTIs (P = 0.62). Patients with a given PPD presented a wide range of incontinence volumes.
Conclusion: the use of absorbent pads is associated with an increased risk of developing UTIs. PPD and daily fluid intake are not correlated with the risk of developing UTIs. PPD is an unreliable measure of urinary incontinence in nursing home residents.