Reviews in Clinical Gerontology

Clinical geriatrics

Non-pharmacological management of urinary incontinence

A Mathura1, J Browninga1 and AK Mistria1 c1

a1 University of Leicester and Leicester General Hospital, UK


Urinary incontinence is a common and under-reported symptom, affecting one in five people, with a higher prevalence in women and those who are elderly. It can have a major impact on physical health and social activity. Initial assessment to categorize symptom type is the key to guiding further therapy. Non-pharmacological (NP) options are preferred as first-line intervention, and if unsuccessful, are followed by anticholinergics, often in combination with NP options. Surgical intervention must be sought where appropriate. However, NP interventions are often not considered due to uncertainty about the evidence-base, perceived difficulty of application and perhaps a lack of awareness of or access to specialist continence services. This article addresses the first of the barriers, summarizing the evidence for various NP interventions, including lifestyle interventions, physical therapies, behavioural therapies and containment options, enabling the reader to formulate an evidence-based opinion and a pragmatic view on the feasibility, efficacy and applicability of the various NP interventions, without automatic recourse to anticholinergic medication in the first instance.

(Online publication September 27 2010)


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr AK Mistri, Senior Lecturer, Ageing & Stroke Medicine, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Gwendolen Road, Leicester LE5 4PW. Email: