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BMC Geriatrics

, 12:51

Physical functioning, physical health and activity


BackgroundUrinary incontinence UI is a major problem in older women. Management is usually restricted to dealing with the consequences instead of treating underlying causes such as bladder dysfunction or reduced mobility.

The aim of this multicenter randomized controlled trial was to compare a group-based behavioral exercise program to prevent or reduce UI, with usual care. The exercise program aimed to improve functional performance of pelvic floor muscle PFM, bladder and physical performance of women living in homes for the elderly.

MethodsTwenty participating Dutch homes were matched and randomized into intervention or control homes using a random number generator. Homes recruited 6–10 older women, with or without UI, with sufficient cognitive and physical function to participate in the program comprising behavioral aspects of continence and physical exercises to improve PFM, bladder and physical performance. The program consisted of a weekly group training session and homework exercises and ran for 6 months during which time the control group participants received care as usual. Primary outcome measures after 6 months were presence or absence of UI, frequency of episodes measured by participants and caregivers not blinded using a 3-day bladder diary and the Physical Performance Test blinded. Linear and logistic regression analysis based on the Intention to Treat ITT principle using an imputed data set and per protocol analysis including all participants who completed the study and intervention minimal attendance of 14 sessions.

Results102 participants were allocated to the program and 90 to care as usual. ITT analysis n = 85 intervention, n = 70 control showed improvement of physical performance intervention +8%; control −7% and no differences on other primary and secondary outcome measures. Per protocol analysis n = 51 intervention, n = 60 control showed a reduction of participants with UI intervention −40%; control −28% and in frequency of episodes intervention −51%; control −42% in both groups; improvement of physical performance intervention + 13%; control −4% was related to participation in the exercise program.

ConclusionsThis study shows that improving physical performance is feasible in institutionalized older women by exercise. Observed reductions in UI were not related to the intervention. Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN63368283

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2318-12-51 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Erwin CPM Tak - Ariëtte van Hespen - Paula van Dommelen - Marijke Hopman-Rock


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