Urinary incontinence and quality of life: a systematic review and meta‑analysis

Damiano Pizzol, Jacopo Demurtas, Stefano Celotto, Stefania Maggi, Lee Smith, Gabriele Angiolelli, Mike Trott, Lin Yang, Nicola Veronese*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Urinary incontinence (UI) and low quality of life (QoL) are two common conditions. Some recent literature proposed that these two entities can be associated. However, no attempt was made to collate this literature. Therefore, the aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of existing data to estimate the strength of the association between UI and QoL. 

Methods: An electronic search of major databases up to 18th April 2020 was carried out. Meta-analysis of cross-sectional and case–control studies comparing mean values in QoL between patients with UI and controls was performed, reporting random-effects standardized mean differences (SMDs) ± 95% confidence intervals (CIs) as the effect size. Heterogeneity was assessed with the I2

Results: Out of 8279 articles initially screened, 23 were finally included for a total of 24,983 participants, mainly women. The mean age was ≥ 50 years in 12/23 studies. UI was significantly associated with poor QoL as assessed by the short-form 36 (SF-36) total score (n = 6 studies; UI: 473 vs. 2971 controls; SMD = − 0.89; 95% CI − 1.3 to − 0.42; I2 = 93.5) and by the sub-scales of SF-36 and 5/8 of the domains included in the SF-36. Similar results were found using other QoL tools. The risk of bias of the studies included was generally high. 

Conclusions: UI is associated with a poor QoL, with a strong level of certainty. This work, however, mainly based on cross-sectional and case–control studies, highlights the necessity of future longitudinal studies for better understanding the importance of UI on QoL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-35
Number of pages11
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Early online date22 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


  • Meta-analysis
  • Quality of life
  • Urinary incontinence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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