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Eur Urol. 2010 Oct;58(4):532-43. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2010.06.007. Epub 2010 Jun 15.

Dynamic progression of overactive bladder and urinary incontinence symptoms: a systematic review.

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Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.



Overactive bladder (OAB) and urinary incontinence (UI) are worldwide public health problems. Longitudinal epidemiologic studies that assess the natural history of OAB and UI are valuable in making accurate prognoses, determining causes and consequences, and predicting resource utilization.


Our aim was to assess whether the severity of OAB and UI symptoms progress dynamically over time, with the secondary aim of assessing factors that may be associated with symptom progression and regression.


A systematic review of English articles published between January 1, 1990, and September 20, 2009, was conducted using PubMed and Embase. Search terms included longitudinal, natural history, overactive bladder, incontinence, progression, remission, and regression. Eligibility was assessed by Dr. Irwin with editorial assistance. Studies were required to be longitudinal and population based; meeting abstracts and conference proceedings were excluded. Results were assessed qualitatively.


Overall, the 7 longitudinal studies of OAB and 14 longitudinal studies of UI reviewed reported an increase in the incidence and remission/regression of both OAB and UI symptoms over time that varied across studies (eg, OAB incidence, 3.7-8.8%; UI incidence, 0.8-19%). The studies provide evidence for a dynamic progression of OAB and UI symptoms (eg, among women with OAB without urge urinary incontinence [UUI], 28% reported OAB with UUI 16 yr later) and also show that although symptom severity progresses dynamically, for many individuals symptoms also persist over long time periods.


The results support the hypothesis that OAB and UI symptom severity progress dynamically and are also sustained over time. However, the variations in symptom definitions and methods used across studies prevent statistical determinations of overall incidence rates. The recognition of OAB and UI as progressive conditions allows for a shift from the current treatment paradigm of symptom control alone to one of symptom management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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