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Qual Health Res. 2014 Apr;24(4):484-93. doi: 10.1177/1049732314524486. Epub 2014 Mar 5.

Women's experiences of internet-based or postal treatment for stress urinary incontinence.

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1Sundsvall Hospital, Sundsvall, Sweden.


Stress urinary incontinence is common and sometimes embarrassing. New, simple, and easily accessible treatments are needed. We telephone interviewed 21 women who participated in a randomized controlled study comparing two treatment programs based on instructions for pelvic floor muscle training. One program was Internet-based and included email support by a urotherapist; the other was sent by post. There was no face-to-face contact in either program. Our main aim was to explore the women's experiences of the Internet-based treatment. Grounded theory analysis revealed three categories: hidden but present, at a distance but close, and by myself but not alone. These were incorporated in a core category: acknowledged but not exposed. The leakage was often a well-hidden secret, but the study treatments lowered the barrier for seeking care. In the Internet group, a supportive patient-provider relationship developed despite the lack of face-to-face contact. Internet-based treatment programs can increase access to care and empower women.


Internet; grounded theory; health seeking; interviews; relationships; self-care; women’s health

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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