Prevalence of combined fecal and urinary incontinence: A community-based study

Rosebud O. Roberts, Steven J. Jacobsen, W. Terence Reilly, John H. Pemberton, Michael M. Lieber, Nicholas J. Talley

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194 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of combined fecal and urinary incontinence. DESIGN: A cross-sectional, community-based study. SETTING: Olmsted County, Minnesota. PARTICIPANTS: Men (n = 778) and women (n = 762), aged 50 years or older, selected randomly from the population. MEASUREMENTS: Participants completed a previously validated self-administered questionnaire that assessed the occurrence of fecal and urinary incontinence in the previous year. RESULTS: The age-adjusted prevalence of incontinence was 11.1% (95% Confidence Interval (CI), 8.8-13.5) in men and 15.2% (95% CI, 12.5-17.9) in women for fecal incontinence; 25.6% (95% CI, 22.5-28.8) in men and 48.4% (95% CI, 44.7-52.2) in women for urinary incontinence; and 5.9% (95% CI, 4.1-7.6) in men and 9.4% (95% CI, 7.1-11.6) in women for combined urinary and fecal incontinence. The prevalence of fecal incontinence increased with age in men but not in women, from 8.4% among men in their fifties to 18.2% among men in their eighties (P for trend =. 001). For women, the prevalence increased from 13.1% among 50- year-old women to 20.7% among women 80 years or older (P for trend =. 5). Among persons with fecal incontinence, the prevalence of concurrent urinary incontinence was 51.1% among men and 59.6% among women (P =. 001 and P =. 003, respectively). Cross-sectionally, the age-adjusted, relative odds of fecal incontinence among persons with urinary incontinence was greater in men than in women (Odds Ratio (OR) = 3.0; 95% CI, 1.9-4.8 in men and OR = 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.7 in women, P =. 04). CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that persons with one form of incontinence are likely to have the other form as well. Despite the higher prevalence of urinary and fecal incontinence among women, the association between fecal incontinence and urinary incontinence was stronger among men than women. This finding, and the significant association between fecal incontinence and age observed in men but not in women, suggest that the etiologies may be more closely linked in men than in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-841
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1999


  • age
  • fecal incontinence
  • sex factors
  • urinary incontinence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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