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The aim of this research was to evaluate the effect of various absorbent matenals (fluff pulp and superabsorbent) on the leakage performance of incontinence pads A shaped pad-and-pant system was used as the basic design and four pad types made to different specifications were compared using a double-blind technique Forty-five elderly hospital residents who were incontinent of urine used all four pad types in a randomly allocated order Data were recorded on more than 5000 pads over a 2-month period Leakage was reduced by adding a second layer of fluff pulp and, whilst the addition of a superabsorbent material tended to reduce leakage further, we found no clear relationship between the amount of superabsorbent and the reduction in leakage Other data indicated the importance of securing the pad in place with the appropriate net pants and the leakage rates of pads in relation to the amount of urine they contained This research suggests that superabsorbent matenals have great potential for reducing the leakage rate of incontinence pads but that the way in which they are incorporated into the pad, the amount of fluff pulp and the design of the pad also play an important part