• prevalence;
  • risk factor;
  • self-perception;
  • urinary incontinence


Background: Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common problem in adults, especially among the elderly. We examined the prevalence and risk factors of UI and potential factors hindering individuals from seeking treatment for UI among a community-dwelling population aged over 40 years.

Methods: Data were collected by mailing a 23-item urinary incontinence questionnaire to a random sample of community-dwelling individuals aged 40–75 years (n = 3500) in seven towns of Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Collected data were then used to estimate the prevalence of UI and to provide information regarding subtypes of UI, knowledge and self-perception about UI.

Results: The overall response rate was 52.5%. Prevalence of UI for male and female respondents were 10.5% and 53.7%, respectively. The incidence of urge incontinence increased as age increased in the male group. In women, stress incontinence was prevalent at all ages and the incidence of urge incontinence increased over 70 years of age. Urinary incontinence was more likely as activities of daily living limitations and cystitis increased. Women with a history of hysterectomy or diabetes mellitus and men who had stroke were at increased risk for UI. Of those who reported UI, only 3% had ever consulted doctors or other health care professionals concern- ing it, 25% recognized their condition as a disease and 38% considered it curable by appropriate treatments. In addition, 63% regarded UI as an unavoidable consequence of aging, 63% con- sidered their condition was embarrassing and 54% were reluctant to seek treatment from a health professional.

Conclusions: Although UI is common among community-dwelling individuals over 40 years of age, the majority of affected individuals remained untreated due to lack of knowledge and/or a negative perception of UI. Thus, community education on UI may be needed to increase the number of UI patients who receive treatment.