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Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2011 Oct;123(19-20):607-10. doi: 10.1007/s00508-011-0013-0. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

The greatest taboo: urinary incontinence as a source of shame and embarrassment.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. ksenia.elenskaia@meduniwien.ac.at

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

While urinary incontinence is often labeled as a taboo in the literature, we found no scientific data addressing this issue exclusively. The aim of our study was to measure the perception of urinary incontinence as a taboo and how this compares to other medical conditions that may be embarrassing.

METHODS:

150 test persons completed a self-administered 13-item questionnaire about perception and knowledge of urinary incontinence. Data were analysed with the SPSS 10.0.5 software package using the U-test, Chi-square-test, Yates-correction, Fisher's exact test and Kolmogorov-Smirnov test.

RESULTS:

Eighty-six (60.6%) of 142 respondents thought that urinary incontinence constituted a taboo in Austria. To be incontinent was considered significantly more embarrassing than depression or cancer, respectively (p = 0.001).

CONCLUSION:

Despite its high prevalence, urinary incontinence is still considered a taboo in up to 60% of our Austrian test persons. The level of shame and embarrassment of urinary incontinence is significantly higher than that of depression and cancer.

PMID:
21935649
DOI:
10.1007/s00508-011-0013-0
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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