JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Prevalence and severity of urinary incontinence in older African American and Caucasian women.

BACKGROUND: Few studies have investigated the prevalence and severity of urinary incontinence in older African American women. Comparisons of findings with those for older Caucasian women could provide important clues to the etiology of urinary incontinence and be used in planning screening programs and treatment services.

METHODS: Data are from the first wave of the Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD) study. A nationally representative sample of noninstitutionalized adults 70 years of age and older was interviewed. African Americans were oversampled to ensure that there would be enough minority respondents to compare findings across racial groups.

RESULTS: A statistically significant relationship was found between race and urinary incontinence in the previous year: 23.02% of the Caucasian women reported incontinence, compared with 16.17% of the African American women. Other factors that appear to increase the likelihood of incontinence include education, age, functional impairment, sensory impairment, stroke, body mass, and reporting by a proxy. Race was not related to the severity (as measured by frequency) of urine loss among incontinent older women.

CONCLUSION: This study identifies or confirms important risk factors for self-reported urinary incontinence in a national context, and suggests factors leading to protection from incontinence. Race is found to relate to incontinence, with older African American women reporting a lower prevalence.

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