Evidence-Based Continence Care: An Integrative Review

Rehabil Nurs. 2017 Nov/Dec;42(6):301-311. doi: 10.1002/rnj.291.


Purpose: The purpose of this integrative review is to identify the best nurse-managed continence care strategies among rehabilitation patients from the current body of evidence.

Design: The newly designed 2015 Competency Model for Professional Rehabilitation Nursing serves as a conceptual framework to categorize evidence-based recommendations for continence care into the four domains of the model.

Methods: A search of the evidence was completed in December 2015. Literature reviewed was limited to articles published from 2005-2015 in the English language. Search priority was given to systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials.

Findings: Nurse-led interventions include evidence-based clinical assessments with use of validated instruments following step-wise algorithms derived from clinical practice guidelines. The interprofessional team emphasizes role-based continence interventions with shared work to reach goals. Leadership recommendations call for administrative support and allocation of resources for continence care and also empower select bedside nurses to become continence champions. Finally, nurse-patient education and caregiver training target the promotion of successful living. System-based continence recommendations are identified to include rehab-oriented electronic documentation systems, written continence policies and procedures, and ongoing nursing education emphasizing accountability to high performance standards.

Conclusions: Rehabilitation nurses are the team leaders in promoting continence in the rehabilitation setting. They are the cultivators of hope and foster resilience among patients to move forward despite acute or chronic illness and disability. This article is intended to support rehabilitation nurses in their review of clinical evidence in effort to move toward a more uniform approach to bowel and bladder management.

Clinical relevance: This review equips rehabilitation nurses who seek to improve their practice by identifying the best evidence-based approaches to continence care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Evidence-Based Nursing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Rehabilitation Nursing / methods*
  • Urinary Incontinence / nursing
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology
  • Urinary Incontinence / rehabilitation*