Urinary incontinence : prevalence, treatment seeking behaviour, experiences, and perceptions among persons with and without urinary leakage
Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis is to describe urinary incontinence (UI) from a population perspective and to describe experiences and perceptions of UI from an individual perspective. This includes assessing the prevalence of urinary incontinence as well as describing treatment seeking and experiences of living with UI. A secondary aim was to describe the perception of UI among cultures other than the Swedish mainstream, exemplified in this case by Syrian women living in Sweden. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used, including questionnaires and interviews.Studies I and II were quantitative studies based on a population-based study. Together with a postal survey on general health and living conditions “Life & Health”, a questionnaire on urinary incontinence was sent out to 15 360 randomly-selected residents aged 18-79 in Orebro County, Sweden. In Study I, UI was found to affect 19%. The majority of the respondents experienced minor problems, and only 18% of those reporting UI wanted treatment. However, there was also a group who reported severe problems, but despite this 42% of them did not want treatment. Study II investigated why people with UI refrain from seeking care and treatment. It was found that the desire for treatment was regulated by the frequency of UI, being restricted from participating in various activities, the degree of inconvenience, and the type of UI.Studies III and IV were both qualitative interview studies, describing older women’s experiences of living with UI (Study III) and Syrian women’s perceptions of UI (Study IV). There were similarities between the results of these two studies; the women described UI as a normal and expected problem, and they knew that the district nurse could prescribe incontinence protections and that treatments existed. In both studies, the women expressed difficulties in making contact with the health care service, while the women who did not speak Swedish (Study IV) also had difficulties due to different communication problems.In conclusion, it is important that health care resources are optimized to identify and meet the needs of those who experience major problems with UI, and that there is awareness of the communication difficulties that can be present in meeting with people who speak other languages. However it is also important not to medicalize those who experience minor problems and who have the desire to manage on their own.
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