Psychosocial impact of urinary incontinence in women

J. F. Wyman, S. W. Harkins, S. C. Choi, J. R. Taylor, J. A. Fantl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

312 Scopus citations


This study explored the psychosocial impact of urinary incontinence and investigated its relationshp to urodynamic diagnosis and degree of involuntary urine loss. The sample comprised 69 community-dwelling women, ages 55 years and older, who were ambulatory and mentally intact, and who had volunteered in a clinical trial on incontinence. Psychosocial impact was measured by an investigator-designed instrument, the Incontinence Impact Questionnaire. Urodynamic evaluation included detrusor and urethral sphincteric function tests. Subjects were grouped into two urodynamic diagnostic categories: sphincteric incompetence (N = 47) and detrusor instability with or without concomitant sphincteric incompetence (N = 22). Severity of incontinence was determined by a one-week urinary diary and a fluid loss quantitation test. Each of the items on the Incontinence Impact Questionnaire was affected by urinary incontinence, although to varying degrees. Activities involving unfamiliar places where the availability of restrooms was unknown were most affected. Subjects with detrusor instability with or without concomitant sphincteric incompetence reported significantly higher impact than subjects with sphincteric incompetence alone. There were modest correlations between psychosocial impact scores and both the number of weekly incontinent episodes and the quantitation of fluid loss.The results in this study population indicate that the relationships between the perceived impact of incontinence and objective measures of its severity are complex and not directly proportionate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-381
Number of pages4
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3 PART I
StatePublished - 1987


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