Cognitive components of behavioral therapy for overactive bladder: a systematic review


Introduction and hypothesis

Behavioral therapy is the first-line treatment for overactive bladder (OAB); however, the cognitive components of behavioral therapy for OAB have not been evaluated. The purposes of this systematic review were to describe the cognitive components of behavioral therapy for OAB and evaluate their effectiveness as well as to describe their rationale and origins.


Searches were conducted on the PubMed, CINAHL, Web of Science, Cochrane and PEDro databases. Inclusion criteria were single-arm or randomized controlled trials on OAB treatment that utilized behavioral therapy, with a description of a cognitive component of the behavioral therapy. Study participants were neurologically intact adults (n = 1169). Study methodological quality was assessed with the PEDro and Newcastle-Ottawa scales.


Five studies were included, published between 2009 and 2020. Methodological quality was variable. All studies reported a reduction of symptoms in participants receiving behavioral therapy. Cognitive components of behavioral therapy were not extensively described. Distraction was the most common cognitive strategy for managing urgency. The relative impact of the cognitive aspect of behavioral therapy could not be evaluated, and the cognitive aspects of behavioral therapy appear to be accepted wisdom, traceable to several key authors, that has not been subjected to scientific investigation.


Behavioral therapy for OAB appears useful, but its cognitive components are not well described, their relative importance has not been evaluated or ascertained, nor have they been rigorously studied.

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Correspondence to Becca Reisch.

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Dr. Becca Reisch declares no conflict of interest.

Dr. Rebekah Das declares no conflict of interest.

Dr. Brynne Gardner declares no conflict of interest.

Dr. Katie Overton declares no conflict of interest.

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Reisch, B., Das, R., Gardner, B. et al. Cognitive components of behavioral therapy for overactive bladder: a systematic review. Int Urogynecol J (2021).

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  • Behavioral therapy
  • Bladder training
  • Overactive bladder