Incontinence affects a very large proportion of the population bringing with it considerable physical, social, psychological and often financial implications for the sufferer Hence, it poses a considerable challenge to the providers of health care in relation to service provision and appropriate treatment of the problem This descriptive study focused on the service provided by one health authority to sufferers of incontinence The service in operation prior to the study had mushroomed with little thought being given to its organization or management, with the result that little was known about the people receiving the service The study was commissioned to establish the number of people receiving assistance and the nature of the assistance given Data were collected using pre-existing records, by questionnaire and by interview A total of 847 people were found to receive assistance from the health authority, the majority of these being female and over the age of 65 Less than half of the study population were in regular contact with the community nursing service with regard to their incontinence Of the remainder, inadequate incontinence products were found to be supplied without prior assessment of the problem to a proportion of the study population Some strategies used by this group to manage their incontinence, disclosed during interview, were considered to be detrimental to the general health and well-being of the individuals practising them These include non-compliance with prescribed diuretics and self-restriction of fluids The service provided was considered to be a basic one providing assistance to 0 47% of the population of the study area The implications of the service provided, highlighted by the findings, are wide-reaching in terms of the resultant underprovision which led to increased misery for some sufferers and the employment of inappropriate coping strategies