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Eur Urol. 2004 Jul;46(1):15-27.

Understanding the burden of stress urinary incontinence in Europe: a qualitative review of the literature.

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Urologische Klinik und Poliklinik, Universit├Ątsklinikum Mainz, Mainz, Germany.



This study was undertaken to better define the prevalence, risk factors, as well as the economic and human burden of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in Europe that will help health care providers better understand the impact of this condition.


A literature search was performed using MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIDS, HealthStar, HSRProj, and HSTAT databases to review the European literature (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK) on SUI between 1990 and 2001. Clinical experts on UI provided advice on this review.


In all European countries studied SUI was identified as a distinct and highly prevalent form of urinary incontinence, and in some countries, as many as 80% of all incontinent women were diagnosed with SUI. However, epidemiological figures varied widely between studies, due to different definitions of diagnostic criteria and disease states and study designs used. Parity and vaginal birth were identified as major risk factors for developing SUI. Only a few studies have examined the economic burden of SUI, but have found it to be significant on patients and society. SUI also significantly affects the quality of women's lives.


There is a clear need for harmonisation in defining SUI, standardising survey methods and validation criteria, and outcome measures, if results are to be compared with any validity. A better understanding of the burden of SUI is essential for future research.

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