Diabetes is one of the most common chronic illnesses worldwide, and it is increasing in prevalence. Urinary incontinence is another worldwide health problem, with a reported prevalence that ranges from 9% to 67%. It decreases quality of life for men and women and has been associated with many poor outcomes, such as longer hospital stays, recurrent or persistent urinary tract infection, and a higher mortality rate. Previous studies have suggested that diabetes is an independent risk factor for urinary incontinence. In addition, the patients’ background and clinical characteristics such as age, obesity, and child-bearing history have been found to increase the risk. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of urinary incontinence in women with type 2 diabetes in the north West Bank and to assess the role of potential risk factors, including age, marital status, weight, and diabetes control.
Women with diabetes attending the six governmental primary health care centres in the north West Bank (Jenin, Tubas, Tulkarem, Nablus, Qalqilya, and Salfit) were interviewed using the CDC National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) standardised incontinence questionnaire. SPSS version 22 was used for data entry and analysis. The prevalence of urinary incontinence was estimated and differences between groups (variables of interest) were evaluated using the chi squared test. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of An-Najah National University, and permission to conduct the study was obtained from the Ministry of Health.
400 Palestinian women with diabetes were invited to participate in the study by convenience sampling, of whom 381 were recruited (a sample size that was chosen with a sample size formula, based on the population of the north West Bank). The participants were aged 30-83 years, and 44% (165 of 381; 95% CI 39-49) reported incontinence, regardless of the type. The prevalence of stress and urge incontinence were 34% (128) and 35% (133), respectively. 30% of women with urinary incontinence (49 of 165) reported that it did not affect their quality of life, and 34% (56 of 165) stated that it did not affect their daily activity. The presence or absence of urinary incontinence was studied in relation to the background and clinical variables by use of the chi squared test. The analysis showed a significant relationship between urinary incontinence status and age (p=0·0011), previous abdominal and genitourinary surgeries (p=0·0037), and caffeine consumption (p=0·041). There was no relationship between urinary incontinence and the duration, type of treatment, or complications of diabetes.
The prevalence of urinary incontinence (regardless of the type) is high among Palestinian women with diabetes. This is similar to reported prevalence in women with diabetes in neighbouring countries, such as Jordan (44%) and Qatar (21%). The majority of participants in this study (70%) reported that urinary incontinence did not affect their quality of life. This may suggest that patients consider the problem to be ordinary, that it does not require medical advice, or that the symptoms are mild. The findings highlight the importance of educating women with diabetes about urinary incontinence. The primary health care medical teams, general practitioners, and nurses who care for patients with diabetes should focus on this neglected problem, and physicians should be alert to urinary incontinence as it may often go unreported and therefore undertreated. To understand whether non-reporting of urinary incontinence reflects mild symptoms, investigating a potential association between non-reporting and the severity or frequency of urinary incontinence may be of interest for future study.

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