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BJU Int. 2006 Apr;97(4):752-7.

A survey of help-seeking and treatment provision in women with stress urinary incontinence.

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Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK.



To establish the prevalence of treatment-seeking in women with stress urinary incontinence (SUI), the extent and type of treatment provision, and the levels of unmet need in women who have and have not accessed care, as SUI in women is common but only a small proportion seek help, and there are reports suggesting that few women receive appropriate treatment.


A cross-sectional postal survey was conducted in which questionnaires were sent to a random sample of community-dwelling women aged > or = 40 years, registered with participating general practitioners (GPs) and living in Leicestershire. The questionnaires addressed urinary symptoms and their impact on quality of life, and service use in the preceding 12 months; 15 359 questionnaires were mailed and 9340 (60.8%) were returned complete.


Of the respondents, 7.7% reported SUI monthly or more often, and 15% of those had sought help. Help-seekers reported more severe symptoms and greater impact on quality of life. Most (78%) had spoken to their GP, and 77% had received some form of treatment or advice, but only 35% had received recommended treatments. The effects on quality of life were not related to treatment provision.


Most women with SUI are treated in primary care; access to appropriate treatments is poor and may, in part, be the cause of the high levels of unmet need observed in this study. Health education interventions may aid appropriate help-seeking and self-care strategies.

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