Urinary incontinence (UI) is a frequent public health problem with negative social consequences, particularly for women. Female susceptibility is the result of anatomical, social, economic and cultural factors. The main objectives of this study are to evaluate the prevalence of UI in the female population of Andorra over the age of 15 and, specifically, to determine the influence of socio-demographic factors. A secondary aim of the study is to measure the degree of concern associated with UI and whether the involved subjects have asked for medical assistance, or not.
Women aged 15 and over, answered a self-administered questionnaire while attending professional health units in Andorra during the period November 1998 to January 2000. A preliminary study was carried out to ensure that the questionnaire was both understandable and simple.
863 completed questionnaires were obtained during a one year period. The breakdown of the places where the questionnaires were obtained and filled out is as follows: 32.4% – medical specialists' offices; 31.5% – outpatient centres served exclusively by nurses; 24% – primary care doctors' offices; 12% from other sources. Of the women who answered the questionnaire, 37% manifested urine losses. Of those,45.3% presented regular urinary incontinence (RUI) and 55.7% presented sporadic urinary incontinence (SporadicUI). In those women aged between 45 and 64, UI was present in 56% of the subjects. UI was more frequent among parous than non-parous women. UI was perceived as a far more bothersome and disabling condition by working, middle-class women than in other socio-economic groups. Women in this particular group are more limited by UI, less likely to seek medical advice but more likely to follow a course of treatment. From a general point of view, however, less than 50% of women suffering from UI sought medical advice.
The prevalence of UI in the female population of Andorra stands at about 37%, a statistic which should encourage both health professionals and women to a far greater awareness of this condition.