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Urinary incontinence increases mortality risk in older people

Urinary incontinence is associated with an increased risk of mortality in older nursing home residents, new research suggests
incontinence

Between 1999-2013, researchers in Spain studied 675 residents at a nursing home in Madrid. After being asked if they had experienced any involuntary leakage of urine in the preceding 14 days, residents were grouped into three categories: continent, mildly incontinent or severely incontinent.

Study participants were followed up for just over 15 years, during which time 576 died. The researchers found that urinary incontinence was associated with a 24% increased risk of all-cause mortality, with a graded relationship across severity levels.

Compared with the continent group, hazard ratios were 7% higher for those with mild urinary incontinence and 44% higher for those with severe incontinence.

Survival determinant

Urinary incontinence is not only a marker but a real determinant of survival in the institutionalised population, the

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Between 1999-2013, researchers in Spain studied 675 residents at a nursing home in Madrid. After being asked if they had experienced any involuntary leakage of urine in the preceding 14 days, residents were grouped into three categories: continent, mildly incontinent or severely incontinent. 


Urinary incontinence was associated with a 24% increased risk of
all-cause mortality, the study found.       Picture: iStock

Study participants were followed up for just over 15 years, during which time 576 died. The researchers found that urinary incontinence was associated with a 24% increased risk of all-cause mortality, with a graded relationship across severity levels. 

Compared with the continent group, hazard ratios were 7% higher for those with mild urinary incontinence and 44% higher for those with severe incontinence. 

Survival determinant

‘Urinary incontinence is not only a marker but a real determinant of survival in the institutionalised population,’ the study authors said. 

‘Preventing or improving urinary incontinence through adequate care and attention may increase survival rates among nursing home residents, an additional benefit to the indisputable improvements in quality of life achieved by successful interventions addressing this highly prevalent condition.’ 

They added that further research is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms and the specific role of nursing to better manage urinary incontinence in nursing homes.  


Damian J et al (2016) Urinary incontinence and mortality among older adults residing in care homes. Journal of Advanced Nursing. doi:10.1111/jan.13170

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