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Systematic review of descriptive studies that investigated associated factors with the management of incontinence in older people in care homes


  • Brenda Roe RN, RHV, PhD,

  • Lisa Flanagan BSc, MBBch, MRCP,

  • Barbara Jack RN, RNT, PhD,

  • Christine Shaw RN, PhD,

  • Kate Williams RN, PhD,

  • Alan Chung BSc, RN,

  • James Barrett MD, FRCP

Brenda Roe
Professor of Health Research
Evidence-based Practice Research Centre
Faculty of Health
Edge Hill University
St Helens Rd
Lancashire L39 4QP
Telephone: +01695 657948


Background.  Incontinence is prevalent among older populations and residents in care homes.

Aim and objectives.  This paper is a review of descriptive studies that investigated associated factors related to managing urinary incontinence in older people in care homes. A systematic literature review was undertaken. MEDLINE and CINHAL were searched from 1996–2010 using the Cochrane Incontinence Review Group search strings for urinary and faecal incontinence including all research designs.

Results.  Sixteen studies were identified that reported on associated factors related to comorbidities, management preferences, policies, staff views and knowledge or methodological studies. Non-invasive methods involving toileting and use of pads were common management approaches. No studies aimed at maintaining continence were identified.

Conclusions.  Factors associated with incontinence need to also be considered when planning and managing care for individuals, and developing and designing systems of care within care homes. Further study in care home populations to change or inform practice and provide effective care is warranted. Preventive studies that maintain continence are required.

Implications for practice.  Older people and their families should be involved with decisions regarding their preferred care, goals, management and outcomes for managing incontinence, promoting or maintaining continence.