Is urinary incontinence associated with sedentary behaviour in older women? Analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Javier Jerez-Roig, Joanne Booth, Dawn A. Skelton, Maria Gine-Garriga, Sebastien F.M. Chastin, Suzanne Hagen

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Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common geriatric syndrome associated with physical and cognitive impairments. The association between type of UI and sedentary behaviour (SB) has not been explored.

To determine association between moderate-severe UI, or any stress UI (SUI) or any urgency UI (UUI) and SB in community-dwelling older women.

Women aged 60 and over from the 2005–2006 cycle of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) with objectively measured (accelerometer) and self-reported SB and UI data were selected. Multivariate models exploring association between moderate-severe UI and SB, or SUI and SB, or UUI and SB were analysed using logistic regression adjusted for factors associated with UI.

In the overall sample of 459 older women, 23.5% reported moderate-severe UI, 50.5% reported any SUI and 41.4% reported any UUI. In bivariate analysis objectively measured proportion of time in SB was associated with moderate-severe UI and UUI (p = 0.014 and p = 0.047) but not SUI. Average duration of SB bouts in those with moderate-severe UI or any SUI was no longer than older women reporting no continence issues, but it was significantly (19%) longer in older women with any UUI (mean difference 3.2 minutes; p = 0.001). Self-reported SB variables were not associated with any type of UI. Multivariate analysis showed an association between UUI and a longer average duration of SB bouts (OR = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.01–1.09, p = 0.006) but no association with moderate-severe UI or SUI.

UUI was significantly associated with increased average duration of SB bouts in community-dwelling older women. The importance of objective measurement of SB is highlighted and suggests that decreasing time in prolonged sitting may be a target intervention to reduce UUI. Future studies are required to further explore the association between SB and incontinence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0227195
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020



  • urinary continence
  • urinary incontinence
  • sedentary behavior
  • older adults

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