Urinary incontinence in a community-based cohort: Prevalence and healthcare-seeking

Rosebud O. Roberts, Steven J. Jacobsen, Thomas Rhodes, W. Terence Reilly, Cynthia J. Girman, Nicholas J. Talley, Michael M. Lieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of urinary incontinence and to assess care-seeking behavior for urinary symptoms among community-dwelling people. DESIGN: A community-based cross-sectional study. SETTING: Randomly selected men and women from Olm- sted County, Minnesota. PARTICIPANTS: Two cohorts, one comprised of both men (n = 778) and women (n = 762) 50 years of age or older and a second comprised of men aged 40 years or older (n = 2150). MEASUREMENTS: Participants completed questionnaires assessing urinary incontinence in the previous 12 months, the number of days leaked, the amount leaked, and healthcareseeking measures for urinary symptoms. RESULTS: In the first cohort, the prevalence of incontinence was 24% in men and 49% in women; 29% of men and 13% of women with incontinence had sought care for urinary symptoms. Urinary incontinence was more strongly associated with care- seeking measures for urinary symptoms in men (Odds Ratio (OR) = 4.3, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 2.4, 8.0) than in women (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.2, 3.9). Moderate or severe urinary incontinence was associated significantly with care-seeking for urinary symptoms (OR = 10.5, 95% CI = 5.6, 19.8). In the second cohort, the prevalence of urinary incontinence was 17.3%; 8.5% of men with incontinence had sought care for urinary symptoms. Men with incontinence were 1.2 times (95% CI = .8, 1.9) as likely to seek care for urinary symptoms as men without incontinence. CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that although urinary incontinence is relatively common in the community, careseeking for urinary symptoms among persons with urinary incontinence is low, particularly among women, for whom the prevalence exceeds 40% between the ages of 50 and 70 years. These findings suggest that strategies to promote careseeking for incontinence need to be investigated and employed in the community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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