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Combined behavioral and drug therapy for urge incontinence in older women

K L Burgio, J L Locher, P S Goode
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2000, 48 (4): 370-4

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of combining behavioral treatment and drug treatment for urge incontinence in community-dwelling older women.

DESIGN: Modified crossover design (extension of a randomized clinical trial). Eligible subjects were stratified according to type and severity of incontinence and randomized to behavioral treatment, drug treatment, or a control condition (placebo). Subjects not totally continent or not satisfied after 8 weeks of a single treatment were offered the opportunity to cross over into combined therapy.

SETTING: A university-based outpatient geriatric medicine clinic.

PARTICIPANTS: Subjects in the clinical trial were 197 ambulatory, nondemented, community-dwelling women (age 55 years or older) with persistent urge urinary incontinence. Thirty-five subjects participated in combined treatment.

INTERVENTION: One group of subjects received four sessions (over 8 weeks) of biofeedback-assisted behavioral training followed by 8 weeks of behavioral training combined with drug therapy (oxybutynin chloride individually titrated from 2.5 mg to 15 mg daily). The second group received drug therapy first, followed by 8 weeks of drug therapy combined with behavioral training.

MEASUREMENTS: Bladder diaries completed by subjects before and after each treatment phase were used to calculate change in the frequency of incontinent episodes.

RESULTS: Eight subjects (12.7%) crossed from behavioral treatment alone to combined behavioral and drug therapy. Additional benefit was seen in improvement from a mean 57.5% reduction of incontinence with single therapy to a mean 88.5% reduction of incontinence with combined therapy (P = .034). Twenty-seven subjects (41.5%) crossed from drug therapy alone to combined drug and behavioral treatment. They also showed additional improvement, from a mean 72.7% reduction of incontinence with single therapy to a mean 84.3% reduction of incontinence with combined therapy (P = .001).

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that combining drug and behavioral therapy in a stepped program can produce added benefit for patients with urge incontinence.

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