Complementary and Conventional Health-care Utilization Among Young Australian Women With Urinary Incontinence

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Urology, 2017, 99 pp. 92 - 99
Issue Date:
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© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Objective To examine the relationship between health status and health service utilization (including conventional and complementary and alternative medicine [CAM]) accessed by women experiencing urinary incontinence (UI). Although a high number of younger women report symptoms of UI, such as leaking urine, only a small proportion seek help for these symptoms. Materials and Methods The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health is a large nationally representative study that investigates the health and well-being of women. The 2 most recent surveys (2006 and 2009) of the young cohort (women aged 28-33 and 31-36 respectively) were analyzed. Results The presence of UI was 8.5% in 2006 (n = 859) and 23.3% in 2009 (n = 1878), whereas the percentage of women who sought help for their UI was 18.6% (n = 160) and 2.2% (n = 182) respectively. Women with UI had poorer health compared with women without UI (P < .005), and women who sought help for their symptoms had poorer physical functioning than women who did not (P < .005). Women who sought help were greater users of conventional and CAM health services (P < .005), including a general practitioner, specialist, hospital doctor, physiotherapist, and naturopath. Conclusion UI is relatively common in younger women. However, many do not seek help. Of the women who do seek care, a large number visit CAM professionals as well as conventional medical professionals, despite a lack of research evaluating the efficacy of CAM treatment. Research is needed to explore CAM practitioner approaches to the treatment of UI and to evaluate the efficacy of these treatments.
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