Urinary incontinence in women under 65: Quality of life, stress related to incontinence and patterns of seeking health care

Ilana Margalith, Gabriel Gillon, David Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Objective: We sought to describe quality of life, psychological stress and patterns of seeking health care (PSHC) among young and middle-aged women experiencing urinary stress incontinence (USI). Reasons and variables associated with delay in seeking care were also investigated. Methods: A sample of 131 patients, aged 22-65, filled out a questionnaire consisted of: SF-36, stress related to incontinence, patterns of seeking health care questionnaires and a 10 cm visual analogue scale (VAS) measuring perceived suffering from USI (0 indicating absence of suffering while 10 indicating most severe suffering). Results: Scores on eight domains of SF-36 were lower, compared to 405 Israeli healthy women (p < 0.001). Forty-one percent reported impairment in performing work and other activities. Mean scores on the VAS was 5.04 (SD: 2.59), 30% marked 7 cm and higher and 12.6% reported most severe suffering due to USI (scored 10 cm). Psychological stress related to incontinence was higher among the younger women and those with severe impairment to sexual activity. The majority of the sample (74%) delayed seeking help for at least a year, 46% delayed it for 3 years. Common reasons for delay were lack of time (36.3%), shame (15.7%) and fear of surgery (14.7%). Age, psychological stress, perceived suffering and social functioning (SF) were associated with patterns of seeking care. Conclusions: USI causes suffering and impaired quality of life among young women. Reluctance to seek help highlights the need to promote women's knowledge of treatment options and cure prospects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1381-1390
Number of pages10
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Patterns of seeking care
  • Quality of life
  • Stress related to incontinence
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Young adults


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