• female;
  • help-seeking intention;
  • nurses/nursing;
  • structural equation model;
  • theory of planned behaviour;
  • urinary incontinence

Aims and objectives

To develop and test a predictive model of women's help-seeking intention for urinary incontinence that was developed using the theory of planned behaviour and to identify factors that influenced women's help-seeking intention.


Urinary incontinence is a chronic progressive condition if left untreated, but few women seek help from healthcare providers. Reasons for not seeking help have been studied in Western countries while relatively little information is available from mainland China.


Questionnaire-based cross-sectional survey was performed in this study.


From May–October 2011, a cross-sectional survey was conducted with a representative sample of 346 incontinent women from three communities in Jinan using strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data were collected via a self-administered pencil-and-paper survey that consisted of a multi-item questionnaire. Predictive model estimation was performed using structural equation model.


The resultant model demonstrated that incontinent women's help-seeking intention could be predicted by their perceived self-efficacy and perceived social impact from urine loss. Perceived self-efficacy was the negative predictor, while the perceived social impact was the positive one. Overall, the predictive model explained 36% of the variance for incontinent women's help-seeking intention.


The theory of planned behaviour can be used to predict help-seeking intention in women who have urinary incontinence. Community nurses should increase patients' help-seeking intention by addressing perceived social impact and perceived self-efficacy in managing incontinent symptoms.

Relevance to clinical practice

Our findings suggest that high perceived self-efficacy in dealing with incontinent symptoms could hinder incontinent women from seeking help from healthcare providers. The strong social impact women perceived, however, facilitates intention to seek help. Nurses should understand and address these factors through education and evidence-based practices to increase help-seeking in incontinent women.