The number of women negatively affected by urinary incontinence (UI) increases with age. Despite clear evidence that age is a risk factor of UI, there are few data on its impact on the quality of life (QOL) of women with UI.
This retrospective study was designed to determine the impact of age on the QOL of women with UI. All patients presented at a single hospital between 2007 and 2011. The urogynecology patient database of the hospital was examined to identify women with UI; the corresponding degree of bother was evaluated by patient response to validated questionnaires. The effect of UI on the QOL of women in 3 different age groups (< 45, 45–55, and > 55 years) was compared using the χ2 test; types of UI (primary stress, primary urge, or mixed) were presented as frequencies. Mean scale scores were assessed for normality; scores were compared using 1-way analysis of variance with a post hoc Scheffé test.
A total of 765 women met inclusion criteria; 22.4% were younger than 45 years, 28.9 % were 45 to 55 years of age, and 48.8 % were older than 55 years. The patients older than 55 years were significantly more likely to have urge UI and mixed UI than those 45 to 55 years of age or younger than 55 years (P < 0.001). The women younger than 45 years and 45 to 55 years of age were more negatively affected by their ability to perform physical activities than those older than 55 years (P = 0.004). The women younger than 45 years were significantly more likely to feel frustrated by their incontinence than the women older than 55 years (P = 0.022). However, there was no significant difference between the groups in overall impact of incontinence (P = 0.585).
These findings show that UI has an equal impact on the functional and psychological QOL in women independent of age. Urinary incontinence in women younger than 45 years and 45 to 55 years of age has a more negative impact on the level of physical activity than in women older than 55 years, but women younger than 45 years are significantly more frustrated by their incontinence than women older than 55 years.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Urogynecology (H.D.B., C.A.L.), and Department of Research Administration (D.M.O.), Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT