RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Prevalence of urinary incontinence and intention to seek treatment in the elderly.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common, distressing, and often disabling condition in the elderly. The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence and clinical characteristics of UI among elderly individuals living at home and to explore their perceptions of UI and intention to seek medical care.

METHODS: A total of 504 elderly subjects aged 65 and older residing in Tungkang town (located in the southwestern part of Taiwan) were randomly sampled and surveyed face to face by registered nurses. The prevalence, clinical types, and perceptions of UI, and intention to seek treatment, were compared with chi-square statistics across various sociodemographic characteristics. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with UI experience and intention to seek treatment.

RESULTS: About 22% of respondents reported that they had experienced involuntary loss of urine in daily life. Women, people who were overweight, and those who were aged 70 years or older were at higher risk of UI. While women were more likely to suffer from stress incontinence, men were at higher risk of urge incontinence. Women, illiterate individuals, and those who perceived UI as a normal part of the aging process showed low intention to seek treatment for UI.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that public awareness programs about UI and promotion of available treatment options are necessary to increase the intention to seek treatment among the elderly. Culturally sensitive programs should be designed, particularly for female and illiterate elderly, to provide incentives to seek medical care. The increasing availability of various treatment modalities coupled with education to correct commonly held misconceptions about UI might enable more elderly individuals to receive treatment for this common condition.

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