Promoting urinary continence with older people: key issues for nurses


  • Jo Booth BSc (Hons), BA, PhD, RN, RNT,

  • Suzanne Kumlien LMSc, BSc, PhD, RN, RNT,

  • Yuli Zang PhD, BMed, MMed, RN

Jo Booth
Senior Research Fellow
School of Nursing
Midwifery and Community Health
Glasgow Caledonian University
Cowcaddens Road
Glasgow G4 0BA
Telephone: +44 141 331 8635


Urinary incontinence is one of the most common and distressing of the conditions experienced by older people. It is not just associated with physical and cognitive frailty but also features significantly in the fit community living population. Urinary incontinence is known to be hidden and under-reported. Yet the needs of older people across the globe in relation to urinary incontinence will increase with the changing demography.

Palliative strategies to contain urinary incontinence predominate in practice, although the reasons for this are not fully understood. Conservative approaches including lifestyle adjustments and behavioural therapies form the mainstay of active continence promotion but their routine use by nurses working with older people seems to be minimal. Promoting continence with older people is an area of practice long overdue for significant and sustainable practice development.