BERKELEY, CA (UroToday.com) - Prevalence estimates for overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome have varied widely in previous epidemiological studies. Prevalence of OAB from as low as 2% up to 53% has been reported; most cited articles estimate a prevalence of between 12% and 17%.
As OAB is a condition defined only by its symptoms, the definition used is critical to accurately estimate the prevalence. Few prevalence studies have included a definition of OAB consistent with the International Continence Society definition and even fewer have assessed symptom bother or quality of life. Data from the Finnish National Nocturia and Overactive Bladder (FINNO) Study (a population-based sample of 6,000 men and women aged 18-79 in Finland; response proportion 62.4%) were analyzed to determine the prevalence of clinically meaningful OAB using the combination of a precise definition of OAB and reported symptom bother. In addition, the impact of urgency and urgency urinary incontinence on health related quality of life was assessed. Although more than half of subjects reported any urgency (scale: never-rarely-often-always), only one in seven of these subjects (8% of the general population) reported moderate or major bother. The results also suggested that reporting frequent urgency is associated with a clinically important decrease in health related quality of life. Hence, most men and women do not experience significant bother from infrequent urgency. These results also suggest that measurement of bother is essential in OAB epidemiology. Reported prevalence estimates based on infrequent symptoms are clinically irrelevant. Further, the prevalence of clinically meaningful OAB (8% in the FINNO Study) is much lower than previous reports have suggested.
Kari A. O. Tikkinen, MD, PhD and Camille P. Vaughan, MD, MSc (on behalf of the FINNO Study Group) as part of Beyond the Abstract on UroToday.com. This initiative offers a method of publishing for the professional urology community. Authors are given an opportunity to expand on the circumstances, limitations etc... of their research by referencing the published abstract.