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Factors associated with variations in older people's use of community-based continence services

Peters, Tim J.; Horrocks, Sue; Stoddart, Helen; Somerset, Maggie


Tim J. Peters

Sue Horrocks
Occasional Associate Lecturer - CHSS

Helen Stoddart

Maggie Somerset


Many people who have urinary incontinence and who may benefit from healthcare and professional advice do not currently access UK National Health Service services, even though effective treatments are available in the community. Older people have an increased prevalence of incontinence and a correspondingly increased need for continence services. Therefore, increasing older people's access to continence services has the potential to reduce inequalities and improve quality of life. The present study aimed to identify older people with urinary incontinence living in the community, to describe and compare the characteristics of users and non-users of continence services, and to identify factors which prevent older people seeking help. A cross-sectional postal survey of patients aged over 65 years registered with four general practices in an urban area found an overall prevalence of 39% of older people with urinary incontinence, only 15% of whom had accessed services. Two-thirds of respondents who reported that they experienced urinary leakage several times per week to all the time, and up to two-thirds of those reporting leakage of moderate or large volumes of leakage had not accessed services. The majority of older people are in regular contact with health professionals, and the greatest single influence on use of services was that of being asked whether there were continence problems by a health professional. Being married or having a partner, experiencing less pain generally, and suffering relatively high frequency and volumes of urinary leakage also appeared to be associated independently with continence service use. In conclusion, there appears to be considerable unmet need for continence services. Health professionals should be aware that incontinence is an important health problem for older people, and by asking older people specifically about urinary leakage, they could reduce inequalities in use of services.


Peters, T. J., Horrocks, S., Stoddart, H., & Somerset, M. (2004). Factors associated with variations in older people's use of community-based continence services. Health and Social Care in the Community, 12(1), 53-62.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2004
Journal Health and Social Care in the Community
Print ISSN 0966-0410
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 1
Pages 53-62
Keywords older people, service use, urinary incontinence, variations
Public URL
Publisher URL http:\\\10.1111/j.1365-2524.2004.00468.x