Distress and quality of life characteristics associated with seeking surgical treatment for stress urinary incontinence

Karen M. Gil, Amber M. Somerville, Sara Cichowski, Jennifer L. Savitski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Current research focuses on three variables in evaluating the impact of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) on daily living: severity of incontinence, distress or bother resulting from incontinence, and effect on health related quality of life (HRQoL). Understanding the impact of these variables is important as they are the driving force behind women seeking surgical treatment. Given the importance of HRQoL in determining need for treatment, as well as evaluating treatment success, this review provides an assessment of the degree to which HRQoL is impaired in women seeking surgical treatment. Methods: PubMed searches for the terms "quality of life and distress and urinary incontinence" and "quality of life and bother and urinary incontinence" were performed with limits of English, human and female subjects through May 2008. All studies using validated instruments were included. No time limit was placed on the search. Results: Of 178 articles retrieved, 21 met the inclusion criteria, and 17 reported methods of scoring. The studies used the Urogenital Distress Inventory (UDI) and the Incontinence Impact Questionnaire (IIQ). Wide ranges of mean and individual levels of severity of symptoms, UDI and IIQ scores were seen among women seeking surgical treatment. Fourteen studies reported baseline and post-surgical treatment distress and QoL data. Statistically significant improvements between baseline and post-surgical UDI and IIQ scores were reported in 12 studies. Reported cure rates ranged from 46% to 97%. Satisfaction with the procedure was reported in 4 studies and ranged from 84% to 91%. A minority of studies reported the relationship between reduction in symptoms and change in HRQoL. Conclusion: HRQoL is the main reason women seek surgical treatment for incontinence and surgical treatment leads to a significant improvement in mean HRQoL scores. Assessment of HRQoL has proved less useful in identifying why individual women seek treatment for incontinence. Preliminary work has begun to characterize the interaction between severity of symptoms, distress or bother resulting from these urinary symptoms, impact on HRQoL, and treatment seeking behavior, but further research is needed. Greater standardization in the reporting of results of distress or bother and HRQoL would allow for comparison across studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
JournalHealth and Quality of Life Outcomes
StatePublished - Feb 5 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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