Factors associated with reasons incontinent midlife women report for not seeking urinary incontinence treatment over 9 years across the menopausal transition

L. Elaine Waetjen, Guibo Xing, Wesley O. Johnson, Joy Melnikow, Ellen B. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Objective: We explored factors associated with reasons that women with urinary incontinence (UI) reported for not seeking treatment for their UI from a healthcare professional and whether reasons differed by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or education. Methods: We analyzed questionnaire data collected from 1995 to 2005 in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. In visits 7 to 9, we elicited reasons that women with UI reported for not seeking treatment and condensed them into: UI not bad enough, beliefs about UI causes (UI is a normal consequence of aging or childbirth), and motivational barriers (such as feeling too embarrassed). We used Generalized Estimating Equations and ordinal logistic regression to evaluate factors associated with these reported reasons and number of reasons. Results: Of the 1,339 women reporting UI, 814 (61.0%) reported they did not seek treatment for UI. The most frequently reported reasons were as follows: "UI not bad enough" (73%), "UI is a normal part of aging" (53%), and "healthcare provider never asked" (55%). Women reporting daily UI had higher odds of reporting beliefs about UI causes (adjusted odds ratio UI 3.16, 95% CI 1.64-6.11) or motivational barriers (adjusted odds ratio UI 2.36, 95% CI 1.21-4.63) compared with women reporting less than monthly UI. We found no interactions by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or education and UI characteristics in reasons that women reported for not seeking UI treatment. Conclusions: Over half of women who did not seek treatment for their UI reported reasons that could be addressed by public health and clinical efforts to make UI a discussion point during midlife well-women visits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Menopause
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Treatment seeking
  • Urinary incontinence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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