The prevalence of urinary incontinence and its burden on the quality of life among older adults with medicare supplement insurance

Qual Life Res. 2011 Jun;20(5):723-32. doi: 10.1007/s11136-010-9808-0. Epub 2010 Dec 8.


Purpose: Estimate the prevalence and burden of urinary incontinence (UI) on the quality of life (QOL) among adults (65 or older) with Medigap insurance.

Methods: Data were obtained from the health update survey (HUS), which contains questions on demographics, comorbid conditions, and the Veteran's RAND 12-item health status survey. The mail survey was fielded on a random sample of 15,000 insureds from 10 states in 2008. Respondents were divided into those with UI and others, based on their response to a question about leaking urine during the last six months. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to estimate the likelihood of UI and its impact on QOL while controlling for respondent demographics and comorbid conditions.

Results: Of the 5,530 eligible respondents, 37.5% reported having UI. The strongest predictors of UI were female gender, advancing age, and obesity. All the QOL estimates were significantly lower for those with UI (P < 0.001). Further, UI had a stronger influence on QOL than did diabetes, cancer, and arthritis, particularly from a mental health standpoint.

Conclusions: Consistent with other Medicare populations (e.g. Medicare managed care), UI was common in Medigap insureds, strongly associated with lower QOL affecting mental, physical, and social well-being, and is often untreated.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medicare / economics*
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Risk
  • Statistics as Topic
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / psychology*