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J Urol. 2007 Apr;177(4):1390-4.

Prevalence of painful bladder symptoms and effect on quality of life in black, Hispanic and white men and women.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.



The prevalence of painful bladder symptoms is poorly defined, especially in racial and ethnic minority groups. We estimated the prevalence of painful bladder symptoms in a community based sample, assessed symptom variation by age, gender, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and estimated their impact on quality of life.


A population based cross-sectional survey of individuals was done in the Boston area using a multistage stratified cluster sample. A 2-hour in person interview performed by a bilingual interviewer was done, generally in the home of the subject. The research design was for equal numbers of subjects in each of 24 design cells, as defined by age (30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59 and 60 to 79 years), gender and race/ethnicity (black, Hispanic and white). The sample of 5,506 subjects was recruited from April 2002 through June 2005. Multiple definitions of painful bladder symptoms were used based on consensus statements, research definitions and published articles. The effect of gender, age, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status on symptom prevalence was assessed.


The prevalence of painful bladder syndrome symptoms was 0.83% to 2.71% in women and 0.25% to 1.22% in men depending on the definition used. Multivariate analyses revealed that symptoms were significantly more common in women, middle-aged individuals (40 to 59 years old) and lower socioeconomic status groups. For most definitions there were no variations by race or ethnicity. The presence of symptoms was associated with a significant adverse impact on quality of life.


Painful bladder symptoms are more common than suggested by coded physician diagnoses. Although most bladder pain research cohorts have included predominantly white women, these population based findings indicate no racial/ethnic disparity and limited gender disparity in the prevalence of painful bladder symptoms. This suggests that the burden of painful bladder syndrome may be greater in nonwhite individuals and men than previously suspected.

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