Screening for Urinary Incontinence in Women: A Recommendation From the Women's Preventive Services Initiative

Ann Intern Med. 2018 Sep 4;169(5):320-328. doi: 10.7326/M18-0595. Epub 2018 Aug 14.


Description: Recommendation on screening for urinary incontinence in women by the Women's Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI), a national coalition of women's health professional organizations and patient representatives. The WPSI's recommendations are intended to guide clinical practice and coverage of services for the Health Resources and Services Administration and other stakeholders. The target audience for this recommendation includes all clinicians providing preventive health care for women, particularly in primary care settings. This recommendation applies to women of all ages, as well as adolescents.

Methods: The WPSI developed this recommendation after evaluating evidence regarding the benefits and harms of screening for urinary incontinence in women. The evaluation included a systematic review of the accuracy of screening instruments and the benefits and harms of treatments. Indirect evidence was used to link screening and health outcomes in the chain of evidence that might support screening in the absence of direct evidence. The WPSI also considered the effect of screening on symptom progression and avoidance of costly and complex treatments, as well as implementation factors.

Recommendation: The WPSI recommends screening women for urinary incontinence annually. Screening ideally should assess whether women experience urinary incontinence and whether it affects their activities and quality of life. The WPSI recommends referring women for further evaluation and treatment if indicated.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening* / adverse effects
  • Primary Health Care
  • Quality of Life
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Incontinence / therapy