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Keywords:

  • urinary incontinence;
  • older adults;
  • leakage;
  • urine;
  • primary care physicians

OBJECTIVES: This study explored reasons why older adults with urinary incontinence (UI) do not initiate discussions with or seek treatment for UI from their primary care provider.

DESIGN: A randomized, prospective controlled trial involving 41 primary care sites.

SETTING: Primary care practice sites.

PARTICIPANTS: 49 older adults age 60 and older not previously screened for UI by their primary care doctor.

MEASUREMENTS: Demographic data, self-reported bladder-control information using questionnaires, and health status.

RESULTS: Adults who did not discuss UI were older, had less-frequent leaking accidents and fewer nighttime voids and were less bothered by UI than those who did. The two main reasons why patients did not seek help were the perceptions that UI was not a big problem (45%) and was a normal part of aging (19%).

CONCLUSIONS: Embarrassment or lack of awareness of treatment options were not significant barriers to discussing UI. Adults with a fairly high frequency of UI (average of 1.7 episodes per day) did not view UI as abnormal or a serious medical condition.