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Lois Verbrugge, Disability Experience & Measurement

The impact of own and spouse's urinary incontinence on depressive symptoms

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Fultz, N.H., Kristi R. Jenkins, T. Ostbye, D. Taylor, M.U. Kabeto, and K.M. Langa. 2005. "The impact of own and spouse's urinary incontinence on depressive symptoms." Social Science & Medicine, 60(11): 2537-2548.

This study investigated the impact of own and spouse's urinary incontinence on depressive symptoms. Attention was paid to the possibility that gender and caregiving might be important factors in understanding significant effects. We used negative binomial regression to analyze survey data for 9974 middle-aged and older respondents to the Health and Retirement Study in the USA. Results supported the hypothesis that the respondents’ own urinary incontinence was associated with depressive symptoms (unadj. IRR=1.73, 95% CIs=1.53, 1.95 for men; unadj. IRR=1.50, 95% CIs=1.38, 1.63 for women). Controlling sociodemographic and health variables reduced this relationship, but it remained statistically significant for both men and women. Having an incontinent wife put men at greater risk for depressive symptoms (unadj. IRR=1.13, 95% CIs=1.02, 1.25), although this relation became nonsignificant with the addition of control variables. No relation between women's depressive symptoms and husbands’ (in)continence status was found. Caregiving was not a significant variable in the adjusted analyses, but spouses’ depressive symptoms emerged as a significant predictor of the respondents’ own depressive symptoms. Health care providers must be sensitive to the emotional impact of urinary incontinence. Our findings also suggest the importance of considering the patient's mental health within a wider context, particularly including the physical and mental health of the patient's spouse.

DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.11.019 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States of America.

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