Does eradicating bacteriuria affect the severity of chronic urinary incontinence in nursing home residents?

Ann Intern Med. 1995 May 15;122(10):749-54. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-122-10-199505150-00003.


Objective: To determine the effects of eradicating otherwise asymptomatic bacteriuria on the severity of chronic urinary incontinence among nursing home residents.

Design: Residents were categorized as nonbacteriuric or bacteriuric on the basis of urine cultures. Bacteriuric residents were then randomly assigned to immediate and delayed treatment groups. The delayed treatment group was included to control for spontaneous changes in the severity of incontinence. The immediate treatment group received antimicrobial therapy for 7 days; after outcome measures had been repeated, the delayed treatment group was treated.

Setting: 6 community-based nursing homes.

Patients: Nursing home residents with chronic urinary incontinence.

Measurements: The frequency and volume of urinary incontinence were determined by physical checks for wetness by trained research aides hourly between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for 3 days in all patient groups (non-bacteriuric, bacteriuric with immediate treatment, and bacteriuric with delayed treatment) at baseline, after the immediate treatment group was treated, and again after the delayed treatment group was treated.

Results: 191 residents were enrolled, and 176 completed the study. Bacteriuria was eradicated by antimicrobial therapy in 71 residents (40%), and 17 residents (10%) had bacteriuria before and after therapy. The percentage of hourly checks at which the residents were found wet and other measures of incontinence severity remained essentially the same after bacteriuria was eradicated. In the nonbacteriuric group, the percentage of checks that were wet increased from 29% (95% CI, 26% to 32%) at baseline to 30% (CI, 27% to 34%) on repeated measurement. In the bacteriuric groups, the percentage increased from 34% (CI, 30% to 38%) before treatment to 35% (CI, 31% to 39%) after bacteriuria was eradicated. The presence of pyuria did not affect the results.

Conclusion: Eradicating bacteriuria has no short-term effects on the severity of chronic urinary incontinence among nursing home residents. Our data support the practice of not treating asymptomatic bacteriuria in this population and validate the recommendations in the Health Care Financing Administration's Resident Assessment Protocol for urinary incontinence.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacteriuria / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Incontinence / microbiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology*