International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 12, pp 2157–2160 | Cite as

Is the belief that urinary incontinence is normal for ageing related to older Canadian women’s experience of urinary incontinence?

  • Christina Shaw
  • Saima Rajabali
  • Cara Tannenbaum
  • Adrian WaggEmail author
Original Article


Introduction and hypothesis

Many women consider urinary incontinence (UI) a normal part of ageing. This belief may contribute to delays in treatment seeking. This study examined the relationship among holding that belief, UI type and severity, impact on quality of life, management and healthcare seeking in a sample of older community-dwelling Canadian women.


This was a secondary analysis of a controlled trial examining the impact of continence promotion workshops on UI self-management. All women who consented and provided baseline data were included in this analysis regardless of eligibility for the main study.


The sample included 4446 women (2022 with UI) of mean (SD) age 78.2 (9.0) years and BMI 26.6 (5.6). The belief that UI is normal for ageing was held by 2149 women [48.3% (83.7% of 1798 incontinent women)] and was not associated with age [adjusted odds ratio (OR) (95% CI): 1.00 (0.99, 1.01), p = 0.72] or perception of overall health. Women with this belief had more impaired QoL compared with the women who felt UI was not normal for ageing [mean (SD) 83.9 (19.4) vs. 87.4 (18.6) (p < 0.01)]. This belief remained unaffected by daily UI and pad use up to 2/day.


More than two-thirds of women thought UI normal for ageing. This belief was not associated with age or perception of overall health. More severe incontinence and greater quantities of pad use did not make women less likely to hold this belief.


Urinary incontinence Community dwelling Healthcare seeking Age Quality of life 



We thank Quazi Imaduddin Ibrahim for his assistance with the statistical analysis.


Funding provided by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS) and Capital Health Endowed Research Funds.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

Dr. Wagg has received funding from Astellas Pharma, Pfizer Corp., and Essity Heath & Hygiene AB for research, speaker honoraria and consultancy—none directly related to this paper.

Dr. Rajabali, Dr. Tannenbaum and Miss Shaw declare no financial conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© The International Urogynecological Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Michel Saucier Chair of PharmacyUniversity of MontrealMontrealCanada

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