The impact of incontinence on health-related quality of life in a South Australian population sample

Jodie C. Avery, Tiffany Gill, Alastair H. MacLennan, Catherine R. Chittleborough, Janet F. Grant, Anne W. Taylor

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Objective: To assess prevalence of incontinence in a South Australian representative population sample and compare the health-related quality-of-life impact of incontinence with other chronic conditions. Method: The 1998 South Australian Health Omnibus Survey interviewed 3,010 male and female respondents aged 15 to 97 years (response rate 70.2%). This representative population survey included questions to determine the prevalence of urinary (stress and urge), and anal (faecal and flatus) incontinence, and other chronic conditions. Respondents also completed the MOS SF-36 questionnaire. Results: Self-reported prevalence of all types of incontinence was 26.0%. The prevalence of anal and urinary incontinence were 10.5% and 20.3% respectively, with 4.8% of respondents experiencing both. Univariate analysis found the prevalence of incontinence was statistically significantly higher among females, and those who were older, widowed, had no post-school education, and lower incomes. After adjusting for differences in age and sex, it was found that people with incontinence were significantly impaired across all dimensions of the SF-36, scoring in the lowest 42% of the population, compared with those people without incontinence. People with incontinence exhibited different SF-36 profiles to those with other chronic conditions. Conclusions: Incontinence is common in South Australia, affecting more than one-quarter of the population, particularly older women (56.2% for 60 years and over). The impact of incontinence on health-related quality of life is characteristically different to that demonstrated by other chronic conditions. Implications: In an ageing population, identification of the impact of incontinence is necessary to direct policy development and resource allocation to this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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