Details of Publication 830 for Project A288:

Vo K, Forder P & Byles J. Urinary incontinence and social function in older Australian women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2016; 64(8): 1646-1650

Objectives: To investigate the relationship between urinary incontinence (UI) and subsequent development of social dysfunction, using longitudinal data collected over 15 years from women aged 70 and older. Design: Longitudinal data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Setting: Australia. Participants: Women born between 1921 and 1926 (aged 70-75 in 1996, 85-90 in 2011) (N = 12,432). Measurements: UI, social dysfunction, other health and demographic factors. Results: Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the association between social dysfunction and UI over time, adjusted for time, health, and social covariates. Social dysfunction and UI increased over time in older women. UI was associated with 30% greater odds of social dysfunction (P < .001), adjusted for time, health, and social covariates in the model with no time lag. UI was also associated with social dysfunction measured one survey period later (forward time lag) (odds ratio (OR) = 1.23, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.13-1.34) and one survey period earlier (reverse time lag) (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.19-1.43), indicating an absence of causality. Social dysfunction was associated with living in urban areas, more health conditions, poor mental health, providing care for other people, and poor physical function. Conclusion: UI was associated with social dysfunction in older women, although the association did not appear to be causal but reflective of the women's overall level of function and general health. UI is not necessarily socially debilitating, unless a woman has other health problems.