Urinary incontinence symptoms and impact on quality of life in patients seeking outpatient physical therapy services

Meryl Alappattu, University of Florida
Cynthia Neville, University of North Florida
Jason Beneciuk, University of Florida
Mark Bishop, University of Florida


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the frequency and types of urinary incontinence (UI) in patients seeking outpatient physical therapy for neuro-musculoskeletal conditions. Design: Retrospective cross-sectional analysis. Patients: A convenience sample of patients that positively responded to a UI screening question was included in this study. Methods: Data were collected for age, sex, and primary treatment condition classified into one of the following (i.e., urinary dysfunction, fecal dysfunction, pelvic pain, spine, neurological disorders, or extremity disorders); UI type (i.e., mixed, urge, stress, or insensible); UI symptom severity; and quality of life (QoL) impact. Main outcome measures: Frequency of UI type, symptom severity, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) impact, and pad use were compared between treatment groups. Results: The mean age of the sample (n = 599) was 49.8 years (SD = 18.5) and 94.7% were female. The urinary dysfunction group comprised 44.2% of the total sample, followed by the spine group with 25.7% and pelvic pain with 17.2%. The urinary dysfunction group scored significantly higher on UI symptom severity and impact on QoL compared to the pelvic pain and spine groups, but not compared to the extremity disorders, fecal dysfunction, or neurological disorder group. Conclusion: These preliminary data indicate that UI is a condition afflicting many individuals who present to outpatient physical therapy beyond those seeking care for UI. We recommend using a simple screening measure for UI and its impact on HRQoL as part of a routine initial evaluation in outpatient physical therapy settings.