Urinary Incontinence and Quality of Life: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis - Beyond the Abstract

Urinary incontinence is a widespread disorder affecting millions of people over the world with impressive and probably still underestimated rebounds on personal and social wellbeing.

Regardless of the type of urinary incontinence, especially in elderly patients, it is rarely expressed by the patient because it is considered a natural consequence of aging and, most of all, due to a sense of shame. The main consequences are a loss of self-confidence and social isolation with a dramatic negative effect on the quality of life. It is well known that in elderly patients with incontinence, negative results such as anxiety, depression, deterioration in sexual life, and a decrease in physical activity may occur. All these conditions are associated with poor quality of life, an umbrella term that, nowadays, includes various domains in human life that consist of the expectations of an individual or society for a good life.

The association between urinary incontinence and poor quality of life has many justifications. People with urinary incontinence usually suffer from more comorbidities than those without this condition. Although several risk factors are reported, the most specifically related are gender, age, dementia, and mobility ability. In addition, fluid intake, self-mobility, and diuretic treatment may influence diuresis and thus urinary incontinence. Indeed, all these factors are associated with poor quality of life in elderly patients. Interestingly, “physical score”, with the reduction of activity and physical performance, was the most effective among tools for quality of life assessment and it could be the consequence of the fear of having losses, and not knowing if there are solutions. This is particularly appropriate in the short term considering that, especially in the first phase, urinary incontinence affects lucid and mentally active people.

Written by: Damiano Pizzol, PhD, Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Khartoum, Sudan, and Nicola Veronese, MD, Primary Care Department, Azienda Unità Locale Socio Sanitaria 3 "Serenissima", Venice, Italy

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