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Influence of behavior modification on overactive bladder

Kathryn L Burgio
Urology 2002, 60 (5 Suppl 1): 72-6; discussion 77
Behavioral interventions have been used for decades to treat urge incontinence and other symptoms of overactive bladder. Perhaps the earliest form of treatment was the bladder drill, an intensive intervention designed to increase the interval between voids to establish a normal frequency of urination and normalization of bladder function. Bladder training is a modification of bladder drill that is conducted more gradually on an outpatient basis and has resulted in significant reduction of incontinence in older, community-dwelling women. Multicomponent behavioral training is another form of behavioral treatment that includes pelvic floor muscle training and exercise. This intervention focuses less on voiding habits and more on altering the physiologic responses of the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. Using biofeedback or other teaching methods, patients learn strategies to inhibit bladder contraction using pelvic floor muscle contraction and other urge suppression strategies. Although behavioral and drug therapies are known to be highly effective for reducing urge incontinence, few patients are cured with either treatment alone. Thus, future research should explore ways to enhance the effectiveness of these conservative therapies. Although the mechanisms by which behavioral treatments work have not been established, there is some evidence that behavioral and drug interventions may operate by different mechanisms, suggesting that they may have additive effects and that combining them may result in better outcomes. Future research needs to examine the mechanisms by which these therapies reduce incontinence and whether combining behavioral and drug treatment will result in better outcomes than either therapy alone.

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