What are the costs of urinary incontinence?

Updated: Jan 22, 2021
  • Author: Sandip P Vasavada, MD; Chief Editor: Edward David Kim, MD, FACS  more...
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In 1989, the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference estimated the annual cost of urinary incontinence in the United States to be $12.4 billion. Some experts believe that this is a conservative estimate. True costs can be difficult to estimate because many individuals do not come to the attention of medical specialists.

A 2009 survey of women in a managed care population found that the prevalence of undiagnosed urinary incontinence was 53% in the preceding year. [12] Some individuals pay out of pocket for adult incontinence undergarments, absorbable pads, skin care products, deodorants, and increased laundry expenses.

The psychosocial costs and morbidities are even more difficult to quantify. Embarrassment and depression are common. The affected individual may experience a decrease in social interactions, excursions out of the home, and sexual activity.

The psychosocial impact on at-home caregivers, spouses, or family members rarely is considered. Kelleher et al developed a questionnaire to assess the quality of life of women with incontinence. [13] This questionnaire has proven to be easy to use, valid, and reliable. This tool may be a valuable adjunct to pretherapy and posttherapy assessment, as well as valuable in comparing the quality of life impact of different urodynamic diagnoses.

Several other questionnaires are available for urge incontinence, stress incontinence, and quality of life. Many have been validated in many languages, presurgery and postsurgery. The questionnaires most often used are the Urinary Distress Inventory (UDI)–6, Incontinence Quality of Life (IQoL) Questionnaire, Incontinence Impact Questionnaire (IIQ)–7, UDI, Overactive Bladder Symptom and Health-Related Questionnaire (OAB-Q), and King’s Health Questionnaire KHQ). [14]

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