Introduction: While urinary incontinence is often labeled as a taboo in the literature, we found no scientific data addressing this issue exclusively. The aim of our study was to measure the perception of urinary incontinence as a taboo and how this compares to other medical conditions that may be embarrassing.
Methods: 150 test persons completed a self-administered 13-item questionnaire about perception and knowledge of urinary incontinence. Data were analysed with the SPSS 10.0.5 software package using the U-test, Chi-square-test, Yates-correction, Fisher's exact test and Kolmogorov-Smirnov test.
Results: Eighty-six (60.6%) of 142 respondents thought that urinary incontinence constituted a taboo in Austria. To be incontinent was considered significantly more embarrassing than depression or cancer, respectively (p = 0.001).
Conclusion: Despite its high prevalence, urinary incontinence is still considered a taboo in up to 60% of our Austrian test persons. The level of shame and embarrassment of urinary incontinence is significantly higher than that of depression and cancer.