Electroacupuncture for stress-related urinary incontinence in elderly women: data analysis from two randomised controlled studies

BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2022 May;12(e1):e164-e170. doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2019-002034. Epub 2020 Jan 9.


Objective: To compare the efficacy of electroacupuncture (EA) in elderly and non-elderly women with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) or stress-predominant mixed urinary incontinence (MUI).

Methods: This study was a secondary analysis of two randomised controlled trials involving 252 women with SUI and 132 women with stress-predominant MUI who were treated with the same EA regimen. Elderly women were defined as those aged >60 years. The main outcome measure was the proportion of patients with ≥50% decrease in the mean 72-hour urinary incontinence episode frequency (IEF) from baseline to week 6. Overall, 1004 women were recruited in the SUI and MUI trials. In the EA group, those with urge-predominant or balanced MUI at baseline were excluded from the current study, resulting in a sample size of 384.

Results: Out of 384 patients with SUI or stress-predominant MUI who were treated with EA, 371 completed the study. After 6-week treatment, the proportion of women who achieved ≥50% decrease in mean 72-hour IEF from baseline was 57.3% (51/89) in the elderly group and 60.70% (173/285) in the non-elderly group; the between-group difference was not significant (3.11%, 95% CI -9.83% to 16.05%; p=0.637). Similar outcomes were observed at weeks 4, 16 and 28. Both groups showed reduction in the 72 -hour IEF, amount of urine leakage (assessed by 1-hour pad test) and International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Short Form score from baseline with no significant between-group difference. No obvious EA-related adverse events were observed during the study.

Conclusion: EA may be an effective and safe alternative treatment for SUI or stress-predominant MUI in both elderly and non-elderly women. Age may not affect the treatment outcomes of acupuncture.

Trial registration numer: NCT01784172, NCT02047032.

Keywords: aged; electroacupuncture; female urogenital diseases; stress; urinary incontinence.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Data Analysis
  • Electroacupuncture* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Incontinence* / etiology
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress* / etiology
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress* / therapy

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02047032
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01784172