Evid Based Nurs 11:121 doi:10.1136/ebn.11.4.121
  • Assessment (screening or diagnosis)

Review: simple questions and clinical tests are moderately useful for diagnosing urinary incontinence

J M Holroyd-Leduc

Dr J M Holroyd-Leduc, Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada;


How accurate are simple clinical procedures and tests for diagnosing urinary incontinence (UI) in adults?


Studies selected evaluated clinical diagnosis of stress or urge UI in adults and used a reference standard of diagnosis by an expert (urologist or urogynaecologist) and/or urodynamic studies in all patients. Outcomes were summary positive (+LR) and negative (−LR) likelihood ratios.


Medline and EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (to Jul 2007), and reference lists were searched for cohort and case–control studies published in English. 40 studies (age range 16–98 y, >99% women) met the selection criteria.


Simple questions such as “Do you lose urine during sudden physical exertion, lifting, coughing, or sneezing?” and “Do you experience such a strong and sudden urge to void that you leak before …

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