• Hispanic;
  • urinary incontinence;
  • epidemiology

Objectives: To measure prevalence and characteristics of urinary incontinence in older Mexican-American women.

Design: Cross-sectional analysis of a longitudinal survey of a representative sample of older Mexican Americans.

Setting: Five southwestern states in the United States.

Participants: A total of 1,589 Mexican-American women, aged 65 and older who were part of the Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly.

Measurements: Self-reported psychosocial, demographic, and health variables; self-reported history of symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Results: Two hundred thirty-nine (15%) of the 1,589 Mexican-American women reported having urinary incontinence. Almost 33% reported urge incontinence symptoms, 10% reported stress incontinence symptoms, and 42% had symptoms suggestive of mixed incontinence. Thirty-five percent of subjects reported incontinence episodes with moderate to large amounts of urine loss, and 15% reported that their urinary symptoms kept them from engaging in social activities. Age and body mass index were risk factors for incontinence (P=.02 and P=.03, respectively).

Conclusion: This is the first community-based survey examining rates of urinary incontinence in Mexican-American women. The prevalence of urinary incontinence may be lower in older Mexican-American women than in the general population. They may also have a higher percentage of urge as opposed to stress incontinence symptoms and may suffer from moderate to large volumes of urine loss associated with their incontinence episodes.