Background: Although urinary incontinence is not life threatening, the condition is one of ‘inconvenience’ and is associated with widespread adverse physical and psychological consequences. For many women, there is a general consensus to ‘accept’ the condition, bear the problem and not seek health care to manage the physiological leakage until the problem becomes unbearable and distressing to their daily lives.
Objective: To identify health care-seeking behaviors of women with urinary incontinence (UI).
Method: A retrospective descriptive exploratory design was utilized in this study. A convenience sample of 249 women who had UI, recruited from the outpatient clinics of three hospitals. Two tools were validated and used to collect data: Tool I: biological and socio-demographic and reproductive history interview schedule; and Tool II: health care-seeking behaviors of women with UI.
Results: The results clarified that the study subjects’ health-seeking behavior for UI was poor. The majority (89.2%) did not seek medical consultation for UI; they attended urologic or gynecologic outpatient clinics to treat other health problems .They followed self-care practices such as use of protective pads and decrease fluid intake. A highly statistically significant correlation between help-seeking behaviors and frequency of UI, amount of urine leakage, severity of incontinence and suffering from terrible disturbances UI was revealed. Furthermore, women believed that UI is a natural part of aging and a consequence of vaginal childbirth, and that there is no effective cure or treatment. It is recommended to empower primary care providers in frontline care delivery with the necessary skills, knowledge base and tools to educate women in healthy behaviors, and UI prevention modalities.