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J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 1999 Jul;26(4):207-8, 210-3.

Use and costs of incontinence pads in female study volunteers. Continence Program for Women Research Group.

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298-0032, USA.



We examined the use and cost of incontinence pads and the relationship to factors such as age, duration of incontinence, diurnal frequency, incontinence severity indices, urodynamic diagnosis, and quality of life.


Three hundred fifteen women with urinary incontinence who volunteered to participate in 1 of 3 incontinence studies (behavioral intervention, estrogen supplementation, or surgery) were analyzed. Subjects were community-dwelling women aged 45 years and older living in 3 cities in the southeastern United States.


Pad use was recorded on a daily diary. The type of pads used was reported on the history. Average price of pad types was assessed at local stores and reported in 1995 dollars. Statistical comparisons used nonparametric methods.


The number of pads used per week and annual cost of pads in 1995 dollars.


Seventy-seven percent of subjects used pads at baseline. Median cost per year for the entire cohort was $46 (interquartile range $3-$138). For pad users, median annual cost was $76 (interquartile range $36-$177), with costs being greater for women with detrusor instability than those with pure genuine stress incontinence (median $135-$138 versus $63). This increased cost was likely associated with the greater use of special incontinence products among women with detrusor instability. For the entire cohort, cost and usage did not differ by urodynamic diagnosis. Cost and pad usage were significantly associated with number of incontinent episodes and quality of life, but not with age, pad weight, or duration of incontinence.


The majority of incontinent women who sought treatment used absorbent pads at least once per week, with menstrual pads being the most common type of pad. The annual cost of pad usage was not as high as in previous estimates.

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