Urinary incontinence in women: quality of life and help-seeking

Faith Howard, Martin Steggall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urinary incontinence on its own is not considered life-threatening, yet it has been shown to negatively affect a patient's wellbeing. While it is considered a common problem, with approximately 3 million women in the UK affected, the number of those women seeking help is much lower. This article will explore the relationship between urinary incontinence, quality of life (QoL), and barriers to help-seeking behaviour. Developing an understanding of this patient group will highlight implications for nursing practice. A number of factors appear to contribute to how women experience urinary incontinence, and how it impacts on QoL. While not all of these can be fully explored, the predominant factors appear to be: severity of urinary incontinence; type of urinary incontinence; age; and the actual QoL score itself. QoL 'scores' are significant when women decide whether or not to seek help for urinary incontinence. Seeking help often depends on beliefs and an understanding of how the condition can be treated. Health promotion, the training of health professionals, and further research are required to improve the understanding of women's experiences, and to develop appropriate services with which to manage this condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)742, 744, 746, 748-9
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Quality of Life
  • Urinary Incontinence


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