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A holistic approach to assessing an individual with urinary incontinence

02 September 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 9


Urinary incontinence can have an overwhelmingly negative impact on an individual's quality of life. The personal, physical, psychosocial and sexual implications of urinary incontinence can affect health and well-being. This can increase the risk of falls, depression, anxiety, social isolation alongside a greater need for long-term care from a individual's own home. Statically, the prevalence rates of urinary incontinence increases with age; however, incontinence is not an inevitable or acceptable part of ageing—symptoms can be improved and managed effectively for suffers of this common condition.

Urinary incontinence can be challenging to assess, address and overcome for individuals. However health professionals need to have the expertise and experience to undertake a comprehensive continence assessment. When assessment is completed evidence-based interventions can be recommended, implemented and subsequently evaluated.

Incontinence is a common global condition, which can affect entire cohorts of the population across all age profiles and adversely alter all aspects of a person's quality of life (Terzoni et al, 2011; Milsom et al, 2013; Sanses et al, 2017). Urinary incontinence is described as involuntary leakage of urine in an inappropriate place, which has social and hygienic consequences (Abrams et al, 2010). Urinary incontinence is one of the most common reasons why an individual may have to move from their home to be admitted into a residential setting (Royal College of Physicians, 2015; Wagg, 2015). The distressing symptoms of incontinence often prevent individuals from self-caring, subsequently increasing the need for family/professional carers' involvement (Murphy, 2019). Although the risk of incontinence increases with age, it is not an inevitable part of ageing (Schluter et al, 2017). Ur inary incontinence impacts on the utilisation of healthcare resources (NHS England, 2018). If incontinence management is ineffective, the financial costs will be exaggerated from increased co-morbidities and raised mortality rates, to environmental implications of disposing used incontinence wear products (Royal College of Physicians, 2011). The clinical symptoms of incontinence cannot be underrated or underestimated due to variations in clinical presentations (Smith, 2020). Urinary incontinence can be challenging to assess, address and overcome for individuals; however, this article will provide a framework for nurses on how to holistically assess an individual with urinary incontinence.

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