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Racial differences in self-reported healthcare seeking and treatment for urinary incontinence in community-dwelling women from the EPI study


  • Linda Brubaker led the review process.

  • Conflict of interest: Janis Miller receives research support from Pfizer. John DeLancey is a consultant for Johnson & Johnson, and receives research support from American Medical Systems and Kimberly Clark. Dee Fenner receives research support from American Medical Systems.



Objectives of this study are: (1) to examine the prevalence of healthcare seeking among black and white women with self-reported urinary incontinence (UI), (2) to investigate barriers to treatment for incontinence, and (3) To investigate commonly used therapeutic modalities for UI.


This is a planned secondary analysis of responses from 2,812 black and white community-dwelling women living in southeastern Michigan, aged 35–64 years, who completed a telephone interview concerning UI, healthcare-seeking behaviors and management strategies. The study population was 571 subjects (278 black, 293 white) who self-identified as having urinary incontinence.


Of these women with UI, 51% sought healthcare with no statistically significant difference between the two races (53% black, 50.6% white, P = 0.64). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, a higher likelihood of seeking healthcare was associated with increased age, body mass index lower than 30 kg/m2, prior surgery for UI, having regular pelvic exams, having a doctor, and worsening severity of UI. There was no significant association between hypothesized barriers to care seeking and race. Almost 95% of the subjects identified lack of knowledge of available treatments as one barrier. Black and white women were similar in percentage use of medications and some self-care strategies, for example, pad wearing and bathroom mapping, but black women were significantly more likely to restrict fluid intake than white women and marginally less likely to perform Kegels.


Black and white women seek healthcare for UI at similar, low rates. Improved patient-doctor relationships and public education may foster healthcare seeking behavior. Neurourol. Urodynam. Neurourol. Urodynam. 30: 1442–1447, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.