Perceptions and help-seeking behaviours among community-dwelling older people with urinary incontinence: A systematic integrative review

Fang Yan, Lily D. Xiao, Keyi Zhou, Zeen Li, Siyuan Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To synthesize research evidence on perceptions and help-seeking behaviours in community-dwelling older people with urinary incontinence based on the Capability-Opportunity-Motivation-Behaviours model. Background: Urinary incontinence is highly prevalent in community-dwelling older people, yet only a small proportion seek help from health professionals. Untreated urinary incontinence has a detrimental impact on older people's quality of life and distresses their caregivers. Design: Systematic integrative review. Data sources: Ten databases were searched systematically between 9 November 2020 and 17 December 2020 including Medline (PubMed), CINAHL, Ageline, Web of Science, Scopus, ProQuest, Psyclnfo, CNKI, Wanfang and Vip. Review methods: Quality appraisal was applied to assess the quality of selected articles. Data relevant to the review aim were extracted from included articles for analysis. Convergent qualitative synthesis was used to synthesize findings. Results: Twenty articles were included and two main themes with six sub-themes were identified. Theme one described three common perceptions including urinary incontinence as a part of normal ageing, a stigma and a health problem. Each perception had a profound impact on older people's motivation to self-report the problem to health professionals. Theme two revealed three main help-seeking approaches comprising self-help, help from friends and help from health professionals. Of these, self-help was the dominant approach used to conceal urinary incontinence and contributed to social isolation. Conclusion: Improving urinary incontinence management in community-dwelling older people requires the development of their capability and motivation, and increased opportunities to access and gain help from skilled health professionals. Impact: Findings can facilitate resource development to improve health literacy for the general public pertinent to urinary incontinence and associated stigma. Moreover, findings can inform a user-friendly reporting and referral system for the problem. In addition, findings can inform education and skill training for health professionals, older people and their caregivers to effectively manage the problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1574-1587
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number6
Early online date12 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • behaviour change
  • caregivers
  • community-dwelling
  • health professionals
  • help-seeking behaviours
  • integrative review
  • nurses
  • older people
  • perceptions
  • urinary incontinence


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