The effect of medication use on urinary incontinence in community-dwelling elderly women

Christine M. Ruby, Joseph T. Hanlon, Robert M. Boudreau, Anne B. Newman, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Ronald I. Shorr, Douglas C. Bauer, Neil M. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate whether use of certain medications with potential urological effects is associated with development of incident urinary incontinence in community-resident older women. DESIGN: Longitudinal cohort study. SETTING: Pittsburgh, PA, and Memphis, TN. PARTICIPANTS: Nine hundred fifty-nine healthy black and white women aged 65 and older enrolled in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study without baseline (Year 1) self-reported urinary incontinence. MEASUREMENTS: Use of alpha blockers, anticholinergics, central nervous system medications (opioids, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, antipsychotics), diuretics (thiazide, loop, potassium sparing), and estrogen (all dosage forms) was determined during Year 3 interviews. Self-reported incident (≥weekly) incontinence in during the previous 12 months was assessed at Year 4 interviews. RESULTS: Overall, 20.5% of these women reported incident incontinence at Year 4 (3 years from baseline). The most common medication used with potential urological activity was a thiazide diuretic (24.3%), followed by estrogen (22.2%); alpha blockers were the least commonly used (2.3%). Multivariable logistic regression analyses revealed that current users of alpha blockers (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=4.98, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.96-12.64) and estrogen (AOR=1.60, 95% CI=1.08-2.36) had a greater risk of urinary incontinence than nonusers. There was no greater risk (P>.05) of urinary incontinence with the current use of anticholinergics, central nervous system medications, or diuretics. No statistically significant race-by-medication use interactions were found (all P>.05). CONCLUSION: These results corroborate earlier reports that, in elderly women, use of alpha blockers or estrogens is associated with risk of self-reported incident urinary incontinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1715-1720
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • aged
  • medications
  • pharmacoepidemiology
  • urinary incontinence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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