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Urology. 2011 Jan;77(1):55-9. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2010.07.460. Epub 2010 Oct 23.

Misconceptions and miscommunication among aging women with overactive bladder symptoms.

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Division of Urology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106, USA.



To better understand aging women's experience with overactive bladder (OAB) symptoms and the care they receive, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of care provided to aging women with overactive bladder.


Women seen in outpatient female urology clinics were identified by ICD-9 codes for OAB and recruited. Patients with painful bladder syndrome, mixed stress and urge incontinence, prolapse, or recent pelvic surgery were excluded. Patient focus groups were conducted by trained nonclinician moderators incorporating topics related to patients' perceptions of OAB physiology, symptoms, diagnostic evaluation, treatments, and outcomes. Qualitative data analysis was performed using grounded theory methodology.


Five focus groups totaling 33 women with OAB were conducted. Average patient age was 67 years (range, 39-91). Older women with OAB lacked knowledge about the physiology of their disease and had poor understanding regarding the rationale for many diagnostic tests, including urodynamics and cystoscopy. The results of diagnostic studies often were not understood by older patients. Many women were dissatisfied with the care they had received. This lack of knowledge and understanding was more apparent among the elderly women in the group.


Findings demonstrated a poor understanding of the physiology of overactive bladder and the rationale for various diagnostic modalities and treatments. This was associated with dissatisfaction with care. There is a need for better communication with older women experiencing OAB symptoms about the physiology of the condition.

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