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Understanding help-seeking in older people with urinary incontinence: An interview study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stuart Parker


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© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The prevalence of urinary incontinence (UI) increases with age and can negatively affect quality of life. However, relatively few older people with UI seek treatment. The aim of this study was to explore the views of older people with UI on the process of seeking help. Older people with UI were recruited to the study from three continence services in the north of England: a geriatrician-led hospital outpatient clinic (n = 18), a community-based nurse-led service (n = 22) and a consultant gynaecologist-led service specialising in surgical treatment (n = 10). Participants took part in semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed and underwent thematic content analysis. Three main themes emerged: Being brushed aside, in which participants expressed the feeling that general practitioners did not prioritise or recognise their concerns; Putting up with it, in which participants delayed seeking help for their UI due to various reasons including embarrassment, the development of coping mechanisms, perceiving UI as a normal part of the ageing process, or being unaware that help was available; and Something has to be done, in which help-seeking was prompted by the recognition that their UI was a serious problem, whether as a result of experiencing UI in public, the remark of a relative, the belief that they had a serious illness or the detection of UI during comprehensive geriatric assessment. Greater awareness that UI is a treatable condition and not a normal part of ageing is needed in the population and among health professionals. Comprehensive geriatric assessment appeared an important trigger for referral and treatment in our participants. Screening questions by healthcare professionals could be a means to identify, assess and treat older people with UI.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vethanayagam N, Orrell A, Dahlberg L, Mckee KJ, Orme S, Parker SG, Gilhooly M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Health and Social Care in the Community

Year: 2016

Volume: 25

Issue: 3

Pages: 1061-1069

Print publication date: 01/05/2017

Online publication date: 16/11/2016

Acceptance date: 13/10/2016

ISSN (print): 0966-0410

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2524

Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/hsc.12406


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