Assessing Incontinence Reporting by Women at a Rural Texas Clinic

Date

2023

Authors

Katz, Hannah
Hadley, Lesca

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Abstract

Abstract

Urinary incontinence is estimated to affect between 20-45% of women in the US; a potential reason that estimates vary is due to underreporting of symptoms. In Eagle Lake, Texas, family physicians are the main source of health education concerning uro-gynecologic issues in women. No local Ob-Gyn or urology specialists practice in Eagle Lake. The two most established family physicians in Eagle Lake are male and they recently discontinued obstetric care. The goal of this project was to assess the prevalence of incontinence and reporting of symptoms by female patients in Eagle Lake, in lieu of a local Ob-Gyn or urologist. The goal of this project was to assess the prevalence of incontinence and reporting of symptoms by female patients in an Eagle Lake Family Medicine clinic, where factors exist which might present barriers to reporting.

Methods

A paper survey was created the Questionnaire for female Urinary Incontinence Diagnosis was used to screen for incontinence in female patients 55 years and older. Questions concerning willingness to discuss symptoms and use of UI medications were asked in multiple-choice format. Data was collected for 10 weeks, and percentages were calculated in Microsoft Excel.

Results

Out of 51 total participants, 50.9% screened positive for incontinence and 17.86% take bladder control medications. Out of women with incontinence, 60.71% indicated they have not brought up symptoms to a physician. Out of those who have not brought up symptoms, 13.89% indicated they would not see a physician for bladder symptoms, 13.89% indicated they would see a female physician only, and 69.44% indicated they would see either a female or male physician. Out of women with incontinence who have brought up symptoms with a physician, 27.27% reported symptoms to a female physician, 54.54% have reported symptoms to a male physician, and 18.18% reported symptoms to both a male and a female physician.

Conclusions

This data demonstrates that more than half of female patients 55 years and older at Rice Medical Associates are incontinent, that more than half of the incontinent women have not discussed their symptoms with a physician, and that less than twenty percent of the incontinent women are on medication for it. Some reasons for underreporting may include insufficient screening in clinic, lack of health literacy on when to seek care, and patient avoidance of discussions concerning "delicate” uro-gynecologic matters. The data shows that some women choose only to discuss bladder symptoms with a female physician, while some choose not to discuss their symptoms at all. Additionally, there were two patients who refused to complete the survey because they were uncomfortable with the topic. Due to research bias from sampling patients in a male family practitioner’s clinic, further studies should survey women outside of a healthcare setting and clarify whether reporting would be different at an Ob-Gyn office. This study indicates the need for purposeful screening for incontinence by rural family physicians, to compensate for underreporting of uro-gynecologic issues by women in areas with limited healthcare options.

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