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Urinary Incontinence


Diagnosis of UI begins with a complete physical and health history assessment. The doctor will gather information regarding one’s symptoms, current medications, surgical and obstetric history, and one’s history of urinary tract infections.27 A focused assessment will be performed to determine the type and severity of UI, as well as its cause and level of reversibility.28

Common topics investigated include how long the symptoms have been occurring, apparent triggers, normal bowel habits, timing, level of urgency and flow quality.2930 The doctor will also explore the patient’s willingness for treatment, their expectations of outcomes and their physiological and psychological status.31

A urinalysis and blood test will be performed in order to begin a preliminary diagnosis and to rule out any underlying conditions the individual may have.32 The doctor will perform a physical examination by inspecting and palpating the abdomen and bladder to assess for fluid retention and masses. For women, a vaginal exam will be completed to determine the strength of their pelvic floor muscles and for signs of atrophy or prolapse. For men, a digital examination of the prostate should be performed in order to rule out UI related to an enlarged prostate.33

The medical provider may also request that the patient maintain a record of their pattern of urination, voiding times, fluid intake, urine output, and amount of incontinent occurrences over the course of several days. The resultant data will be used to guide future UI treatment and management strategies.34


  1. 1,3,4,10,11,13,15,28,29,40Leaver, R. (2017). Assessing patients with urinary incontinence: the basics. Journal Of Community Nursing, 31(1), 40-46.
  2. 2,5,12,16,19,23,26,31,32,33,42,43Bardsley, A. (2016). An overview of urinary incontinence. British Journal Of Nursing, 25(18), S14-S21.
  3. 6,14,17,18,20,30,35,37,38,39,44Testa, A. (2015). Understanding Urinary Incontinence in Adults. Urologic Nursing, 35(2), 82-86. doi:10.7257/1053-816X.2015.35.2.82
  4. 7,21,24,25,27,34,41,45Barrie, M. (2015). Identifying urinary incontinence in community patients. Journal Of Community Nursing, 29(6), 45-52.
  5. 8,9Gorina, Y., Schappert, S., Bercovitz, A., Elgaddal, N., & Kramarow, E. (2014). Prevalence of incontinence among older americans. Vital & Health Statistics. Series 3, Analytical And Epidemiological Studies, (36), 1-33
  6. 22Beeckman, D., Van Damme, N., Van den Bussche, K., & De Meyer, D. (2015). Incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD): an update. Dermatological Nursing, 14(4), 32-36.
  7. 36Nazarko, L. (2015). Person-centred care of women with urinary incontinence. Nurse Prescribing, 13(6), 288-293.