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The lack of interest in urinary incontinence (UI) care is puzzling to Diane Newman, MSN, RNC, CRNP, FAAN, who has worked in the field since 1986. From her perspective, better practice could make a big difference. "The science has moved forward but I don't believe nursing interventions have," she explains.


So Newman contacted her colleagues, and in July 2002 nurse researchers, clinicians, educators, administrators, state and federal regulators for long-term care, and industry stakeholders assembled in Washington, DC, to participate in "Urinary Incontinence: Research, Practice, and Policy Issues." Designed to bring together experts from all sides of the field, the conference was cosponsored by AJN, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System Division of Urology, Center for Continence and Pelvic Health, and funded in part by grants from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and product and drug manufacturers.


Researchers presented the evidence on behavioral interventions in young and middle-age women; how sex, race, and culture affect UI; treatment of UI in men and older women; and UI in the frail elderly. Participants broke into small groups to brainstorm ways to change nursing practice and public stigma regarding incontinence.



The first priority is to increase awareness among nurses, says Mary Palmer, PhD, RNC, FAAN, a conference organizer. With AJN' s publication of the conference report, The State of the Science on Urinary Incontinence, in March 2003, nurses can now "have in their toolboxes some help for first-line UI intervention and screening." Newman says the supplement "really presents what's out there in terms of research, and it gives nurses hard information, suggestions, and recommendations about what they can do."



Figure.  One of the ... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. [black up pointing small triangle] One of the many panel discussions at the symposium.

Results of the 2002 conference will be presented at various upcoming meetings: the Society for Urologic Nurses and Associates in March, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties in April, and the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) in June. The findings were highlighted in the December 2002 issue of Ostomy Wound Management, and will also be published in Urologic Nursing. This August, the results will reach consumer audiences through the annual AWHONN publication, Every Woman.



Figure.  Symposium p... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. [black up pointing small triangle] Symposium participants broke into small brainstorming groups.

The report's executive summary is available on page 45. And to make sure the issue remains visible in these pages, this month AJN launches a quarterly column on bladder health (see page 129).



Palmer believes that "nursing can own this problem." Conference attendee Christine Bradway, MSN, CRNP, would like to see incontinence care training incorporated into every undergraduate curriculum in the United States. "Students have to have some introduction; they need to know how to assess the problem and be able to figure out if they can treat it themselves or if the patient needs to be referred to another professional."-Lisa Santandrea


Request a copy of The State of the Science on Urinary Incontinence, or a copy of the general presentation created by the conference organizers by contacting Ruke Hidraj at (212) 886-1357 or The supplement is also available online at



Thelma Wells, PhD, RN, and Carol Brink, MPH, RN, received the Doris Schwartz Gerontological Nursing Research Award for their collaborative work on urinary incontinence, including establishing the nation's first continence clinic in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The award was given by the Gerontological Society of America in collaboration with the John A. Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University Division of Nursing.