Objectives. To assess, by means of a survey, the impact of the symptoms of overactive bladder (urinary frequency, urgency, and urge incontinence) on the quality of life in a community-based sample of the U.S. population. Methods. A telephone survey was conducted in the United States among an age and sex-stratified sample of 4896 noninstitutionalized adults 18 years of age and older. From the responses to the telephone survey, a total of 483 individuals with symptoms of overactive bladder and 191 controls completed a mailed follow-up questionnaire to assess their quality of life using the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 20. Results. After adjustment for age, sex, and the use of medical care, the greatest differences in the quality-of-life scores between the patients with incontinent overactive bladders and the controls were in the health perception (17.6 points; P <0.001) and role functioning (13.0 points; P <0.001) scales. Those with an overactive bladder with the symptoms of frequency or urgency, or both, but without incontinence, also had significantly lower scores than did the controls in mental health (P = 0.026), health perception (P = 0.01), and bodily pain (P = 0.016). Conclusions. These data indicate that individuals with an overactive bladder experience decrements in their quality of life relative to community controls. An important new finding from this study is that individuals with an overactive bladder, even without demonstrable urine loss, also have a poorer quality of life than that of controls.
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