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Value Health. 2004 Jul-Aug;7(4):455-63.

The impact of urinary urgency and frequency on health-related quality of life in overactive bladder: results from a national community survey.

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MEDTAP International, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.



Overactive bladder (OAB) is described as urinary urgency, with and without urge incontinence and usually with frequency and nocturia. Most attention to OAB's impact on health-related quality of life (HRQL), however, has focused on urge incontinence. The objective of this study was to evaluate the burden of OAB, specifically urinary urgency and frequency on HRQL.


In the National Overactive Bladder Evaluation Program (NOBLE), a computer-assisted telephone interview survey was conducted to assess the prevalence of OAB in the United States. Based on interview responses, respondents were classified into three groups: continent OAB, incontinent OAB, and controls. To evaluate the HRQL impact of OAB, HRQL questionnaires were mailed to all respondents with OAB and age- and sex-matched controls as a performed nested case-control study. Continuous data were compared using Student's t tests and analysis of variance with post hoc pairwise comparisons; results were adjusted for age, sex, and comorbid conditions. Multivariable regressions were performed to assess the impact of each urinary variable on symptom bother and HRQL.


A total of 919 participants responded to the questionnaires (52% response rate) with a mean age of 54.2 years (SD 16.4 years); 70.4% were female and 85% were white. Continent OAB participants comprised 24.8% of the sample, incontinent OAB 18.3%, and controls 56.9%. In each regression analysis, urinary urge intensity accounted for the greatest variance for increases in symptom bother and decreases in HRQL.


The experience of urinary urgency has a significant negative effect on HRQL and increases symptom bother, an effect that, in this community sample, is greater than that of incontinence, frequency, or nocturia.

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