Recovery from Poststroke Urinary Incontinence: Associated Factors and Impact on Outcome


Address correspondence to Dr. Charles Wolfe, Department of Public Health Medicine, 5th Floor, Capital House, Guy's Hospital, 42 Weston Street, London, England, SE1 3QD.


OBJECTIVES: To determine factors associated with recovery from poststroke urinary incontinence and to estimate the impact of this recovery on stroke outcome at 3 months.

DESIGN: Prospective, observational study.

SETTING: Population-based stroke register.

PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred twenty-four incident cases of stroke with incontinence 1 week poststroke were identified from the register between January 1, 1995, and December 31, 1998.

MEASUREMENTS: At 3 months, 105 patients were dead and 12 were lost to follow-up. The remaining patients were classified by continence status; those who had regained continence (n = 127) were compared with those who remained incontinent (n = 80) in terms of demographic details, stroke risk factors, premorbid disability, neurological impairments, and Oxfordshire Community Stroke Project stroke subtypes. Data at 3 months included disability using the modified Barthel Index (BI) (without its urinary continence component) and the Frenchay Activity Index (FAI), and institutionalization.

RESULTS: Multivariate analysis showed being age 75 and older (odds ratio (OR) = 0.38; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.17–0.83) was associated with poor recovery from incontinence. Compared with subjects with total anterior circulatory infarctions, those with lacunar infarctions were more likely to regain continence (OR = 3.66; 95% CI =1.10–12.2), and compared with subjects with a BI between 0 and 14, those with a BI between 15 and 18 were also more likely to regain continence (OR = 21.8; 95% CI = 5.95–79.7). At 3 months, the incontinent group had greater institutionalization rates (27 (34%) vs 9 (7%), P < .001) and worse disability, measured with BI and FAI (BI: P < .001, FAI: P = .002).

CONCLUSIONS: Age 75 and older is independently associated with poor recovery from poststroke urinary incontinence. Further clinical trials are required to explore underlying mechanisms and efficacy of possible interventions for this group of stroke survivors. Recovery from poststroke urinary incontinence should be a major goal of stroke professionals because it is associated with lower institutionalization rates and less disability at 3 months.