Effects of age and causal attribution to aging on health-related behaviors associated with urinary incontinence in older women

Julie L. Locher, Kathryn L. Burgio, Patricia S. Goode, David L. Roth, Eric Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of age and patients' attribution of incontinence to aging on health-related behaviors associated with incontinence. Design and Methods: Participants in this study were 74 women who either sought treatment for urinary incontinence at a multidisciplinary continence program or volunteered for a randomized clinical trial of behavioral and drug therapy for incontinence. As part of their clinical evaluation, women were interviewed about how they managed their incontinence and their perceptions of what had caused the condition. Self-management of incontinence was defined as behaviors used to cope with incontinence, rather than treat or cure incontinence. Self-treatment was defined as self-implementation of Kegel exercises, and formal treatment was defined as interaction with a health care provider. Results: Over half of the respondents attributed their incontinence to aging. In multivariate analyses, age was associated with self-management of incontinence, but not self-treatment or formal treatment. In contrast, attribution of incontinence to aging was associated with self-management and self-treatment of incontinence. There was also a trend for attribution of incontinence to aging to be associated with formal treatment for incontinence. Women who attributed their incontinence to aging were less likely to have engaged in selfmanagement strategies and to have received a previous evaluation or treatment; but, they were more likely to have engaged in self-treatment for incontinence. When other relevant variables were added to the regression models, perception that incontinence restricted one's activities became the most significant predictor of performing selfmanagement strategies and performing Kegel exercises. Implications: Attribution to aging may be an impediment to seeking treatment. Education to promote understanding of the actual causes and treatment of urinary incontinence may encourage people to seek appropriate intervention. Additionally, whereas attribution to aging is an important factor contributing to health-related behaviors, other factors, such as perception that one's activities are restricted, may play an important role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-521
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Self-management
  • Self-treatment
  • Treatment-seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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