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J Urol. 2006 Feb;175(2):601-4.

The prevalence of urinary incontinence among community dwelling adult women: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, 90095-1738, USA.



Population based studies estimate that a large proportion of adult women report urinary incontinence. However, there is a wide range of estimates of the burden posed by UI. To measure the prevalence of incontinence in women in the community we analyzed data from women responding to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.


NHANES is a series of health and nutrition surveys performed by the National Center for Health Statistics. From 1999 to 2000 NHANES asked a national sample of community dwelling women, "In the past 12 months, have you had difficulty controlling your bladder, including leaking small amounts of urine when you cough or sneeze (exclusive of pregnancy or recovery from childbirth)?" Questionnaire results were recorded and analyzed with respect to demographic data including age, race and level of education.


The overall prevalence of urinary incontinence in women was 38%. The prevalence of daily incontinence increased with age, ranging from 12.2% in women 60 to 64 years old to 20.9% in women 85 years old or older. Of women reporting any incontinence, 13.7% reported daily incontinence, and an additional 10.3% reported weekly incontinence. Prevalence was higher in non-Hispanic white women (41%) than in non-Hispanic black (20%) or Mexican-American women (36%). Women with less than a high school education were less likely to report incontinence than were those with at least a high school education.


Unlike many other studies the NHANES draws a nationally representative sample of subjects in the community and, thus, provides prevalence data for urinary incontinence for all women in the United States. Prevalence is high, and varies with age, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic variables.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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