The purpose of this study was to explore the problem of urinary incontinence among elderly men living in the community. Descriptive data from a mailed, 53-item survey were collected and analyzed. The subjects were a convenience sample of 2800 older community-dwelling men enrolled in a hospital-based senior citizens' group in the southwest United States. The 53-item, self-administered survey was designed with a large typeface and a reading level of 3 years of schooling. In pretesting, the instrument required approximately 10 minutes to complete. Within the 2-month response period, 1490 completed surveys were returned for a total response rate of 53%. A subsample of 434 respondents (29%) reported uncontrolled urine leakage of any amount during the month before the survey. Most of these elders reported mild symptoms (84%) or symptoms that had persisted longer than 1 month but less than 2 years (48%). Consistent with the mildness of symptoms reported, the most frequently reported wetness management products were household commodities, such as toilet tissue and paper towels. Only one third of subjects with urinary incontinence symptoms had discussed these symptoms with a physician. Of those who did, almost half received some type of treatment. Incontinence was found to be statistically associated with age, prostate surgery, diuretic use, difficulty in starting urination, and voiding small amounts. In most cases, however, incontinence demonstrated a limited statistical relationship to these variables commonly associated with incontinence. In contrast, caffeine use, a history of prostate problems, and the sensation of incomplete bladder emptying were statistically associated with continence. The prevalence of urinary incontinence among elderly community-dwelling men is significant, although most asserted that their problems with urine loss are mild. In addition to urinary incontinence, many continent and incontinent elderly men have a wide range of urinary dysfunction symptoms.
Reprint requests: Mary Grace Umlauf, RN, C, PhD, Associate Professor and Scientist, School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 348 School of Nursing Building, Birmingham, AL 35294-1210.
Supported by South Plains Foundation, Lubbock, Texas.
Copyright © 1996 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society