A prospective study was done to look at the awareness of patients to the availability of treatment for stress incontinence and whether this would have altered their health seeking pattern. Stress incontinence is when urine leaks because there is a sudden extra pressure ('stress') on the bladder. Questionnaires were distributed to all the patients admitted for continence surgery (n = 26). A second cohort included all patients attending the gynaecological outpatient clinic for any reason during a period of 2 months (n1 = 65) comprising of 2 groups A and B. After 1 month, a simple poster reminding patients with continence problems to discuss this with the doctor they were about to see. Group A was before and group B was after the implementation of the poster. In the pre-operative group, 26 patients completed the questionnaire. Of these 19 (73%) had been experiencing symptoms of involuntary urine leakage for more than 3 years. Majority of them had been referred for treatment following consultation with their doctor for an unrelated complaint. Only 42% (11) of the patients had seen the GP for the incontinence per se. More than 80% (22 patients) delayed in seeking treatment due to lack of awareness of treatment availability. With the introduction of the poster, there was an increase from 10 - 60% of patients informing the doctor of their incontinence complaints in the out patient clinic. Lack of awareness was found to be the main reason for delayed/failure to seek treatment for incontinence.
Key words: Stress incontinence, medical taboo, lack of awareness, WHO initiative.
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