D. Wayne Taylor, Michael Weir, Jacqueline J. Cahill, Diaa E. E. Rizk
The study aimed to determine the prevalence and understanding of urinary incontinence (UI) in a community sample of Canadian women and identify barriers to health-care seeking. Women aged 20 or more were selected randomly fromthe community and interviewed about inappropriate urine loss within the previous 12 months, the meaning and causes of UI, and their demographics. Attitudes towards health care-seeking and average waiting intervals before medical encounter were also studied. With a response rate of 92%, 36.5% women admitted to having UI. Of this number, 76.5% considered themselves “incontinent” because of amount and/or frequency of leakage; only 55.8% sought medical advice, on average, 14 months post onset. Several reasons for not seeking help were identified. Only 46.2% of respondents interpreted “incontinence” as the inability to control urine; 19.4% defined incontinence as involuntary urine leakage. Exact ly one-third of respondents did not knowthe causes ofUI; 63.4% thought it was normal in old age, and 12.9% believed UI could not be cured or improved. Only 51.6% considered UI as any amount or frequency of uncontrolled urine loss. The study concluded that UI is prevalent, poorly-understood and under-reported in Canadian women because of inadequate public knowledge with consequent delay in management. This information should assist in formulating a public education strategy for UI and in planning the social and medical care of incontinent women.