Bladder and Bowel UK. Guidance for the provision of continence containment products to children and young people A consensus document. 2021.

Buckley BS, Lapitan MC Prevalence of urinary and faecal incontinence and nocturnal enuresis and attitudes to treatment and help-seeking amongst a community-based representative sample of adults in the United Kingdom. Int J Clin Pract. 2009; 63:(4)568-73

Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry. 2013. (accessed 28 September 2022)

Incontinence Products Online. The costs of incontinence products. 2022. (accessed 28 September 2022)

Murphy C, Prieto J, Fader M ‘It's easier to stick a tube in’: a qualitative study to understand clinicians' individual decisions to place urinary catheters in acute medical care. BMJ Qual Saf. 2015; 24:(7)444-50

Percival J, Abbott K, Allain T ‘We tend to get pad happy’: a qualitative study of health practitioners' perspectives on the quality of continence care for older people in hospital. BMJ Open Qual. 2021; 10:(2)

Radzimińska A, Straczynska A, Weber-Rajek M, Styczynska H, Strojek K, Piekorz Z The impact of pelvic floor muscle training on the quality of life of women with urinary incontinence: a systematic literature review. Clin Interv Aging. 2018; 13:957-965

Ending healthcare's over-reliance on containment products and catheters

13 October 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 18

Incontinence is becoming more and more prevalent across all our healthcare sectors. Commonly associated with elderly people, it is an ever-increasing problem across the entire population. It is estimated that more than 14 million people, including children of all ages, in the UK are experiencing some sort of bladder problem. Around 6.5 million people also have bowel problems (Buckley and Lapitan, 2009; Percival et al, 2021). One in 10 of the UK's population live with faecal incontinence. The statistics for incontinence are higher among older women than diseases such as breast cancer, diabetes and heart disease (Radzimińska et al, 2018).

So if it is such a significant problem for the population, why is nobody talking about it?

One of the biggest issues I have noticed since working in the bladder and bowel sector is that urinary incontinence is widely normalised. You can easily buy containment products off the shelf in almost any supermarket, and television advertisements promoting incontinence pads imply that urinary incontinence is completely normal. Men and women are led to believe that it is OK that they are leaking urine on exertion or at night-time, and simply buying a containment product will solve their problems. However, it is not a solution and barely even a management strategy.

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