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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1477-7525-10-153) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
All authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.
EV, JHD and GHB were responsible for study design and conceptualization, as well as the drafting and revising (besides JAB) of the manuscript. JAB and EV collected and interpreted the data and AMM, HH and JAB performed the statistical analysis. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Urinary incontinence negatively influences the lives of 25-50% of elderly women, mostly due to feelings of shame and being limited in activities and social interactions. This study explores whether differences exist between types of urinary incontinence (stress, urgency or mixed) and severity of the symptoms, with regard to their effects on generic and condition-specific quality of life.
This is a cross-sectional study among participants of a randomized controlled trial in primary care. A total of 225 women (aged ≥ 55 years) completed a questionnaire (on physical/emotional impact and limitations) and were interviewed for demographic characteristics and co-morbidity. Least squares regression analyses were conducted to estimate differences between types and severity of urinary incontinence with regard to their effect on quality of life.
Most patients reported mixed urinary incontinence (50.7%) and a moderate severity of symptoms (48.9%). Stress urinary incontinence had a lower impact on the emotional domain of condition-specific quality of life compared with mixed urinary incontinence (r = −7.81). There were no significant associations between the types of urinary incontinence and generic quality of life. Severe symptoms affected both the generic (r = −0.10) and condition-specific (r = 17.17) quality of life.
The effects on condition-specific quality of life domains differ slightly between the types of incontinence. The level of severity affects both generic and condition-specific quality of life, indicating that it is not the type but rather the severity of urinary incontinence that is the main predictor of decreased quality of life.