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BJU Int. 2009 Oct;104(7):954-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2009.08534.x. Epub 2009 Apr 21.

Lower urinary tract symptoms: lack of change in prevalence and help-seeking behaviour in two population-based surveys of women in 1991 and 2007.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University and Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.



To test the hypothesis that the overt prevalence and help-seeking pattern for lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) might have changed over time, by comparing the prevalence of urinary incontinence (UI), overactive bladder (OAB) and other LUTS (principally storage symptoms) and help-seeking pattern in two equivalent groups of women 16 years apart.


We compared two cross-sectional studies; population-based random samples of women aged ≥20 years in the central district of Gothenburg in 1991 (2911) and 2007 (3158) were asked to complete similar self-administered postal questionnaires regarding UI and other LUTS.


The mean (sd, range) age of the two groups was 48.1 (20.4, 20-98) years in 1991 and 46.2 (20.0, 20-101) years in 2007, respectively. When comparing the two study populations there were no significant differences in the reported prevalence of UI, OAB or nocturia (defined as two or more voids per night) over time. Nocturia according to the International Continence Society definition was significantly more prevalent in 2007 than 1991, as was daytime voiding frequency of eight or more times a day. OAB dry (i.e. with no incontinence) was more common in 1991, while OAB wet (i.e. with incontinence) was more prevalent in 2007. Of the women in 1991 and 2007, 6% and 7%, respectively, had sought help from the healthcare system due to UI. Significantly more women in 2007 than in 1991 stated that the presence of UI limited their social life (29% vs 13%, P < 0.001).


LUTS are common in women and the prevalence rates of UI and OAB have not changed during the last 16 years. Many women still do not seek help from the healthcare system, and the help-seeking pattern has remained unchanged, despite effective treatment currently being offered.

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