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Open Access Research

Severity, not type, is the main predictor of decreased quality of life in elderly women with urinary incontinence: a population-based study as part of a randomized controlled trial in primary care

Janka A Barentsen1, Els Visser1, Hedwig Hofstetter2, Anna M Maris2, Janny H Dekker1 and Geertruida H de Bock3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Practice, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

2 Department of Psychometrics and Statistics, Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

3 Department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2012, 10:153  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-10-153

Published: 18 December 2012

Abstract

Background

Urinary incontinence negatively influences the lives of 25-50% of elderly women, mostly due to feelings of shame and being limited in activities and social interactions. This study explores whether differences exist between types of urinary incontinence (stress, urgency or mixed) and severity of the symptoms, with regard to their effects on generic and condition-specific quality of life.

Methods

This is a cross-sectional study among participants of a randomized controlled trial in primary care. A total of 225 women (aged ≥ 55 years) completed a questionnaire (on physical/emotional impact and limitations) and were interviewed for demographic characteristics and co-morbidity. Least squares regression analyses were conducted to estimate differences between types and severity of urinary incontinence with regard to their effect on quality of life.

Results

Most patients reported mixed urinary incontinence (50.7%) and a moderate severity of symptoms (48.9%). Stress urinary incontinence had a lower impact on the emotional domain of condition-specific quality of life compared with mixed urinary incontinence (r = −7.81). There were no significant associations between the types of urinary incontinence and generic quality of life. Severe symptoms affected both the generic (r = −0.10) and condition-specific (r = 17.17) quality of life.

Conclusions

The effects on condition-specific quality of life domains differ slightly between the types of incontinence. The level of severity affects both generic and condition-specific quality of life, indicating that it is not the type but rather the severity of urinary incontinence that is the main predictor of decreased quality of life.

Keywords:
Population-based; Female; Urinary incontinence; Quality of life