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Details Patients’ Treatment-seeking Behaviors, Coping Methods, Management Efforts and Sources of Information on OAB

In December 2015, NAFC partnered with Medtronic to conduct a study with diagnosed and undiagnosed patients suffering with Overactive Bladder. The objective of the study was to better understand OAB, coping strategies and their management approach to the condition.

Findings from the study were quite revealing, and much of the information may be helpful to healthcare providers seeking to better understand their patients – not only those who seek out their assistance for OAB but also those who are reluctant to so do.  Here’s a brief summary of what the study uncovered:

Impact On Quality Of Life:

  • The study revealed that 58% of men and 74% of women (including both diagnosed and non-diagnosed respondents) tended to be bothered by OAB symptoms (rating of “bother me a great deal”).

  • Among the diagnosed and non-diagnosed, lifestyle issues affected the most among patients were confidence and intimacy. Travel, self-esteem, and general health feelings were also affected.

  • More than half of those diagnosed with OAB use 4 coping strategies: making sure they are located near a bathroom, avoiding drinks before bed, monitoring fluid intake and using pads. The non-diagnosed tend use the same strategies, however at lower rates.

  • Women are more likely than men to use a number of strategies to cope with OAB. These strategies include pads, dietary modifications, Kegel exercises and staying away from activities with family and friends. 

Disease Management/Treatment Insights:

  • The internet is the leading source of information for both diagnosed and non-diagnosed OAB sufferers, with WebMD as the leader followed by

  • Prescription medications are used 4 times more often by women (33%) than men (7%). Approximately 1/3 of men and women have tried medications, but are no longer using them. Satisfaction levels with OAB treatments are low, with lack of effectiveness and side effects cited as the top reasons for discontinuing OAB treatment.

  • About half of women and only 37% of men are aware that nerves play a role in causing OAB. Treatment awareness is largely limited to medications, dietary/behavior modifications and catheters. 

Discussing Bladder/Bowel Health:

  • Among undiagnosed women who have not discussed their concerns with their physician, embarrassment was the top reason. This was followed by patients being uncomfortable to talk about it, patients’ sense that other health issues were more important to discuss, the idea that OAB is just a part of getting older, and the belief that nothing can be done for those with the condition.

  • Men’s top reason was that they felt other, more serious health issues were more important to discuss. They also frequently stated that they believed it was a normal part of getting older and that nothing could be done about it; in fact, they noted these reasons more often than women.

  • With 54% of non-diagnosed women and 71% of non-diagnosed men citing they have consulted a physician about their urination issues, this suggests that diagnosis and screening guidelines, along with a common referral standard may be important to better serve the undiagnosed/untreated population.


Patients were screened and those that qualified replied to an online questionnaire about bladder health and OAB symptoms, implications and treatment options.  Of the 356 that completed the survey, 153 reported a physician had diagnosed them with OAB. The remaining 203 respondents all had reported symptoms of OAB, but have not been diagnosed by physician. Respondents ages ranged from 18-65+, with 60% of the respondents age 35-54 and 30% age 55+.

The non-diagnosed patients self identified through the use of a series of questions regarding the frequency of need to void urgently, the number of times per day, and the days per week the urgency occurred and the degree to which the problem was considered bothersome. Questions follow the standard diagnosed questions published by the American Urological Association and others.


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