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Keywords:

  • coping strategies;
  • nocturnal enuresis;
  • parents

Abstract

Background  Childhood nocturnal enuresis is a potentially distressing experience. Parents have been found to adopt many approaches designed to help their child become dry at night. This study sought to understand, through a large cohort of children at 7½ years of age, the strategies parents adopt, both during the child's development and currently, to help their child overcome bed-wetting.

Methods  A longitudinal cohort of 13 971 children with expected date of delivery between April 1991 – December 1992, in the County of Avon (Bristol) formed the population study group. At 7½ years parents were asked, as part of a regular self-report questionnaire, what methods they had tried or were currently using to help their child stop bed-wetting. Eleven options were supplied.

Results  Of 8269 parents responding to the questionnaire, 3376 (40.8%) indicated they had tried at least one of 11 strategies, with restricting night-time fluids and lifting being the predominant methods employed. Amongst strategies employed in the past, lifting and showing displeasure were used significantly more by parents of children with nocturnal enuresis than by those with children dry at 7½ years. However, a greater proportion of parents of dry children encouraged their offspring to toilet more regularly in the daytime than parents of those with nocturnal enuresis or infrequent wetting. In terms of treatment interventions, the enuresis alarm had been employed with 19.2% and medication with 13.1% of those with nocturnal enuresis, although only 31.9% of those with nocturnal enuresis had seen a health worker. The results are discussed in relation to preventative and clinical implications.