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Urinary incontinence in elderly inpatients in Japan: A comparison between general and geriatric hospitals


This is the first multi-hospital epidemiological study to elucidate the prevalence and characteristics of urinary incontinence in elderly inpatients throughout Japan. Of the 2586 subjects to whom questionnaires were issued, 1563 (60.4%) (65 to 102 years old, 598 men, 965 women) were suitable for the study. A total of 817 patients were hospitalized in geriatric hospitals; that is, geriatric facilities under the regulation of the Department of Health and Welfare. All patients were evaluated by medical doctors for the following items: age, sex, duration of hospitalization, activities of daily living, medical diagnosis, presence or absence of urinary incontinence, type of urinary incontinence, and therapy for urinary incontinence. The prevalence of urinary incontinence in patients under 70, 70–79, 80–89, and over 90 years old was 59.3%, 67.7%, 79.8%, and 82.2%, respectively. Overall, 1142 patients (72.0%) suffered from urinary incontinence. Cerebrovascular disease was the major cause of admission to hospital in patients with urinary incontinence (37.0%). The most frequent type of urinary incontinence was functional urinary incontinence in patients who were mentally and/or physically unable to go to the bathroom without aid (21.5%). Specifically, 38.1% of patients in geriatric hospitals were diagnosed as having functional urinary incontinence, in contrast to only 3.9% of patients in non-geriatric units. In patients with dementia, 88.7% were incontinent, whereas in patients without dementia, the prevalence of urinary incontinence was much lower (51.5%, p<0.001). Another predisposing factor for urinary incontinence was urinary tract infection. The prevalence of urinary incontinence in patients with and without urinary tract infection was 87.8% and 59.5%, respectively (p<0.001). Almost all patients with poor activities of daily living (who were bedridden) suffered from urinary incontinence (98.5%). On the other hand, urinary incontinence was not so frequent in patients who could walk (26.9%). Pad (42.8%) and indwelling bladder catheter (18.3%) were the major means of management of incontinence, whereas behavioral therapy (4.9%) and surgery (0.5%) were not common. These results suggest that elderly patients with treatable urinary incontinence do not receive adequate therapy in Japan.

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Correspondence to K. Toba M.D..

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Toba, K., Ouchi, Y., Orimo, H. et al. Urinary incontinence in elderly inpatients in Japan: A comparison between general and geriatric hospitals. Aging Clin Exp Res 8, 47–54 (1996).

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Key words

  • Geriatric hospital
  • functional urinary incontinence