Difficulty with holding urine among older persons in a geographically defined community: prevalence and correlates

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1995 Apr;43(4):349-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1995.tb05806.x.


Objective: The goal of this study was to estimate the prevalence and correlates of difficulty holding urine among a population of community-dwelling older people.

Design: Population-based cross-sectional study.

Subjects: A population census identified all residents aged 65 years and older residing in East Boston, Massachusetts, in 1982.

Measures: Data collected via in-home interviews were used to estimate the prevalence of difficulty holding urine and to provide information regarding potential correlates of urinary difficulty.

Results: Of the 3809 study participants (85% response rate), 28% reported having "difficulty holding urine until they can get to a toilet" at least some of the time, and 8% reported difficulty "most" or "all of the time." Difficulty was associated with age and sex; 44% of women and 34% of men reported some difficulty (P < .001), and 9% of women and 6% of men (P < .001) reported difficulty most or all of the time. For respondents aged 65 to 74 years, 40% reported some difficulty, compared with 47% of those aged 85 and older (Ptrend < .001); difficulty most or all of the time was reported by 6% of those aged 65 to 74 and 12% of those aged 85 and older (Ptrend < .001). Difficulty holding urine was associated with important health and functional measures including depression, stroke, chronic cough, night awakening, fecal incontinence, problems with activities of daily living, decreased frequency and ease in getting out of the house, and poor self-perception of health.

Conclusions: Difficulty holding urine is a prevalent condition among older people living in the community and is associated highly with a number of health conditions and functional problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology*