Assessment of bothersomeness and impact on quality of life of urinary incontinence in women in France, Germany, Spain and the UK


Sotiria Papanicolaou, Eli Lilly and Company Limited, Lilly Research Centre, Erl Wood Manor, Sunninghill Road, Windlesham, Surrey, GU20 6PH, UK.



To assess the bothersomeness and impact on quality of life (QoL) of urinary incontinence in community-dwelling women in France, Germany, Spain and the UK.


A detailed follow-up questionnaire was mailed to 2960 randomly-selected women who had reported symptoms of urinary incontinence in an earlier survey of 29 500 representative households in four European countries. In the second questionnaire, women were asked about the severity of their symptoms, the impact of urinary incontinence on their QoL, and how bothersome their incontinence was.


A total of 1573 women responded to the follow-up questionnaire, of which >80% reported that their urinary incontinence symptoms were bothersome. The greatest negative effect appeared to be on physical activities, confidence, self-perception and social activities, with a statistically significant correlation between an increase in bothersomeness and an increase in severity of symptoms. Similarly, a negative impact on QoL was associated with an increase in severity of incontinence. The variables: country, urinary incontinence type, severity, age, number of medical conditions and number of leakages had a statistically significant influence on the bother and the validated incontinence QoL (I-QoL) questionnaire scores.


The extent to which women are bothered by their urinary incontinence and report that their symptoms have a negative impact on their QoL is largely subjective. In determining the most appropriate management, physicians should consider the experience of being incontinent as unique to each individual.