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Am J Manag Care. 2005 Jul;11(4 Suppl):S103-11.

The impact of urinary incontinence on quality of life of the elderly.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.



To investigate the impact of urinary incontinence (UI) on health-related quality of life (QOL), as measured by the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36) and to compare UI and non-UI elderly Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in managed care plans on the prevalence of depression and self-rated health.


After excluding beneficiaries younger than 65 years old, a total of 141 815 completed surveys were used for analysis. The survey included 1 question on difficulty in controlling urination, 3 questions on depression, 3 questions on health, a series of questions regarding comorbid medical conditions, and the SF-36. Self-rated health, prevalence of depression, and scores in each domain of QOL were compared between UI and non-UI groups.


Overall, the prevalence of UI was 24.7% (20.9% in men, 27.5% in women). The UI group was about twice as likely to feel depressed as the non-UI group. The UI group also rated their health more negatively. Compared with continent respondents, those who were incontinent had lower standardized scores on all 8 subscales of SF-36 as well as 2 summary scores. Results from multiple regressions indicated that UI had a significantly negative impact on all aspects of QOL after adjusting for comorbidities and demographic differences.


Findings indicate that elderly patients with UI are more depressed and have worse perceived health. On certain domains of QOL, the negative impact of UI even surpasses that of other severe comorbidities.

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