Urinary incontinence in elderly women: Findings from the health, aging, and body composition study

Rebecca A. Jackson, E. Vittinghoff, A. M. Kanaya, T. P. Miles, H. E. Resnick, S. B. Kritchevsky, E. M. Simonsick, J. S. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of and risk factors for stress and urge incontinence in a biracial sample of well-functioning older women. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of 1,584 white and blade women, aged 70-79 years, enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study. Participants were asked about incontinence, medical problems, and demographic and reproductive characteristics and underwent physical measurements. Using multivariable logistic regression, we compared women reporting at least weekly incontinence with those without incontinence. RESULTS: Overall, 21% reported incontinence at least weekly. Of these, 42% reported predominantly urge incontinence, and 40% reported stress. Nearly twice as many white women as black women reported weekly incontinence (27% versus 14%, P < .001). Factors associated with urge incontinence included white race (odds ratio [OR] 3.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.0 - 4.8), diabetes treated with insulin (OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.6-7.9), depressive symptoms (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.4-5.3), current oral estrogen use (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1-2.6), arthritis (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1-2.6), and decreased physical performance (OR 1.6 per point on 0-4 scale, 95% CI 1.1-2.3). Factors associated with stress incontinence were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (OR 5.6, 95% CI 13-23.2), white race (OR 4.1, 95% CI 2.5-6.7), current oral estrogen use (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.3-3.1), arthritis (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.0-2.4), and high body mass index (OR 1.3 per 5 kg/m2, 95% CI 1.1-1.6). CONCLUSION: Urinary incontinence is highly prevalent, even in well-functioning older women, whites in particular. Many risk factors differ for stress and urge incontinence, suggesting differing etiologies and prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-307
Number of pages7
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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