Preventing Urinary Incontinence in Women - Diane Newman

July 21, 2023

Diane Newman discusses her career-long dedication to research in the field of urinary incontinence and related health issues. She has conducted comprehensive studies in various areas, including behavioral therapy, device and catheter management, and preventive interventions. Notably, Dr. Newman highlights her involvement in the TULIP project, a preventive initiative focused on women without symptoms, which demonstrated the efficacy of bladder health classes and DVDs in preventing incontinence. Dr. Newman is also actively engaged in efforts to improve catheter-related patient safety at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She has collaborated on significant research with other universities, targeting the combination of surgery and behavioral therapy for women with mixed urinary incontinence. Her research also extends to prostate cancer treatment decisions and bladder and bowel issues related to multiple sclerosis. Dr. Newman emphasizes the importance of qualitative research, including interviews and focus groups, in understanding patients' perspectives and experiences.


Diane K. Newman, DNP, ANP-BC, BCB-PMD, FAAN, Adjunct Professor of Urology in Surgery, Research Investigator Senior, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and Former Co-Director of the Penn Center for Continence and Pelvic Health, Philadelphia, PA

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Diane Newman: My biggest, I think, delight in really what I really want to do for the rest of my career is research, and clinical research. And I've done it in all areas around the behavioral therapy, around device and catheter management. And I have really published in this area. But I've also shared my expertise in posters at nursing meetings. And I am really emphasizing now prevention of urinary incontinence primarily now in women. And we'll talk about later as far as the problem that these pelvic floor dysfunctions you see in women.

I've also done prevention science research as far as a project called TULIP, which was prevention of incontinence in women who did not have symptoms. That was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research. And that work has been since published, as you can see, in major journals. This is Journal of Urology. And what we showed is that a bladder health class was as effective as a DVD in preventing these symptoms from occurring in women over a two-year period. So you can see the preventive effect of the interventions that I do.

I also have worked with Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for safety as far as removing catheters so that we don't harm patients with catheter associated UTIs. Also, as far as the bags that we attach to catheters, how safe are they? Working with consensus groups on those.

And then my collaborative research I'm very proud of. I work with University of Michigan, University of Alabama and as part of the Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Network, looking at the combination of mid-urethral sling surgery for women with mixed urinary incontinence combining with behavioral therapy, which is the intervention as far as bladder training and pelvic floor muscle training.
And I've done qualitative research too and survey research, doing focus groups in elders in Philadelphia, asking them what they know about the bladder, what they know about what it does, how they can prevent bladder control problems, do they have it? And I've been working more on that qualitative interview type of research to really listen to women's voices as far as around this problem.

And this collaborative research I've done, also not just in incontinence. I've been really involved with groups as far as other colleagues and other researchers in the area of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is a major issue with men, and we do see them at the University of Pennsylvania and I do see them if they have surgery, may have some incontinence afterwards. So I'm really doing research on decision-making in this area. How do men choose which treatment for their prostate cancer?

And I've also done some bowel research, bladder and bowel. Because the bowel problems that we see do relate to the bladder control problems that we see. And there's some research in the area with multiple sclerosis patients as far as identifying what's going on with their bowels, what's going on with their bladders as far as how does it affect. And I've also worked with other treatment options for prostate cancers, radiation therapy.

The other thing that I'm very proud of is my home-base background, and that was some of the major parts of my career is seeing individuals in their home who could not come into the office. And doing research on how we can help them in that environment, I think is particularly challenging. When they come to see us in the office, we may tell them what to do, but when they go home, they may not be able to access the bathroom to keep them continent, because the bathroom is on the second floor and they may really reside on the first floor throughout the day. So working with those individuals, how to make them more independent and actually how to get that bladder back in control.

I wanted to show you this picture because a couple years ago, my daughters, I have three lovely daughters, and now a new granddaughter, who gave me a t-shirt that called me The Bladder Whisperer. And I think that's kind of what I am. A lot of people don't know what I do, but they do know that what I do is effective and the patients are very happy. Patients come to me very distressed over their bladder control problems, they're incontinence. They're rushing to the bathroom, they're always in the bathroom, they tell me, because they can't control their bladder. And they get better. So I guess I am kind of like a bladder whisperer. Thanks for listening.