Factors associated with women's decisions to seek treatment for urinary incontinence

Academic Article


  • Background: Urinary incontinence is a highly prevalent and burdensome condition among women. However, fewer than half of women with symptoms talk to a physician about incontinence, and the determinants of treatment seeking are not well understood. Design: A two-stage cross-sectional survey of adult U.S. women; 45,000 households participating in NFO Worldgroup survey research received a questionnaire to identify adults with incontinence. Based on stratified random sampling of identified incontinent women, 2310 women received a detailed questionnaire. Results: Among 1970 women with urinary incontinence symptoms, 38% had initiated a conversation with a physician about incontinence. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, some of the factors associated significantly with treatment seeking were symptom duration >3 years (OR 2.33, 95% CI 1.57-3.45), having a history of a noticeable accident (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.06-1.87), worse disease-specific quality of life scores (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.32-2.70), not being embarrassed to talk with a physician about urinary symptoms (OR 1.65, 95% CI 1.28-2.14), talking with others about urinary incontinence (OR 3.34, 95% CI 2.49-4.49), and keeping regular appointments for routine/preventive care (OR 2.25, 95% CI 1.54-3.29). Conclusions: Less than half of community-dwelling adult U.S. women with symptoms of urinary incontinence have talked with a physician about urinary incontinence. In addition to duration of symptoms, factors associated with treatment seeking included the impact of incontinence on quality of life, lack of embarrassment about talking to a physician about urinary symptoms, and attitudes toward healthcare use. Concerns about the meaning of incontinence for overall and future health were important reasons for women choosing to seek treatment.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kinchen KS; Burgio K; Diokno AC; Fultz NH; Bump R; Obenchain R
  • Start Page

  • 687
  • End Page

  • 697
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 7