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Women's experiences of assessment for urinary incontinence: a qualitative study

22 February 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 4



One in four women experience urinary incontinence. A woman's medical history, a physical examination and certain tests can guide specialists in diagnosing and offering treatment. Despite the high prevalence, little is known about women's experience of urinary incontinence assessment.


To explore the experience of a group of women undergoing an assessment for urinary incontinence.


Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 women who had been assessed for urinary incontinence. A thematic reflective analysis method was used.


The women experienced a lot of shame and worry related to their urinary incontinence and the assessment. Having a safe relationship with the urotherapist was very important, and being given information about treatment options gave hope for a better life.


Urinary incontinence and its assessment are associated with shame and anxiety. A good patient–urotherapist relationship is paramount and learning that treatments are available made women feel more optimistic about the future.

Urinary incontinence (UI) is the involuntary loss of urine; it is a symptom and a sign that something is wrong (Haylen et al, 2010). Symptoms of UI include any deviation from the normal structure, function or sensation of the lower urinary tract that a woman experiences or that is observed by her family or caregivers (Haylen et al, 2010). It is a common condition among women, as 25% of adult women have a type of UI to some degree, and prevalence increases with age (Hannestad et al, 2002). Despite this, most women with UI do not seek care and treatment (Hannestad et al, 2002; Andersson et al, 2005; Waetjen et al, 2018). Women without daily problems are more likely to report that they did not want treatment than those with more troublesome UI (Andersson et al, 2005). Little is known about why so many women live with this condition without seeking help.

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