The Spectrum of Bladder Health: The Relationship between Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms and Interference with Activities

Siobhan Sutcliffe, Tamara Bavendam, Charles Cain, C. Neill Epperson, Colleen M. Fitzgerald, Sheila Gahagan, Alayne D. Markland, David A. Shoham, Ariana L. Smith, Mary K. Townsend, Kyle Rudser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Little research to date has focused on lower urinary tract symptom (LUTS) prevention and bladder health promotion in women. To address this gap, the Prevention of LUTS Research Consortium developed the following working bladder health definition: "A complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being related to bladder function [that] permits daily activities [and] allows optimal well-being." To begin to inform and quantify this definition, we used data from the Boston Area Community Health Survey, drawing upon its rare collection of information on LUTS and LUTS-specific interference with activities. Methods: At baseline, participants reported their frequency of 15 LUTS and interference with 7 activities. Prevalence ratios (PRs) were calculated by generalized linear models with robust variance estimation, adjusting for LUTS risk factors and individual LUTS. Results: Of the 3169 eligible participants, 17.5% reported no LUTS or interference, whereas the remaining 82.5% reported some frequency of LUTS/interference: 15.1% rarely; 21.7% a few times; 22.6% fairly often/usually; and 22.9% almost always. LUTS independently associated with interference were urgency incontinence, any incontinence, urgency, nocturia, perceived frequency, and urinating again after <2 hours (PRs = 1.2-1.5, all p < 0.05). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that bladder health exists on a continuum, with approximately one in five women considered to have optimal bladder health (no LUTS/interference), the majority to have intermediate health (LUTS/interference rarely to usually), and a further one in five to have worse or poor health (LUTS/interference almost always). These findings underscore the need for LUTS prevention and bladder health promotion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-841
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2019.


  • health promotion
  • incontinence
  • prevention
  • public health


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