Conservative interventions for incontinence in people with dementia or cognitive impairment, living at home: a systematic review

Drennan, Vari M, Greenwood, Nan, Cole, Laura ORCID:, Fader, Mandy, Grant, Robert, Rait, Greta and Iliffe, Steve (2012) Conservative interventions for incontinence in people with dementia or cognitive impairment, living at home: a systematic review. BMC Geriatrics, 12 (1). ISSN 1471-2318

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Dementia is a distressing and disabling illness with worldwide estimates of increased numbers of people with the condition. Two thirds of people with dementia live at home and policies in many countries seek to support more people for longer in this setting. Incontinence both contributes to carer burden and is also a significant factor in the decision to move into care homes. A review was conducted for evidence of effectiveness for conservative interventions, which are non-pharmacological and non-surgical interventions, for the prevention or management of incontinence in community dwelling people with dementia.

Fourteen electronic databases were searched, including MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL (from inception to 2012). Assessments of risk of bias were made. Meta-analysis was inappropriate due to the heterogeneity of the interventions and outcome measurements. A narrative analysis was undertaken.

From 427 identified abstracts, 56 studies were examined but only three met the inclusion criteria, all more than a decade old. All three focused on urinary incontinence. Two studies were exploratory or pilot studies. All had a control arm. The interventions were of advice for the carer to implement. Two included toileting education of prompted voiding or an individualised toileting schedule. There was insufficient evidence to support or rule out effectiveness of any of these interventions. Some interventions were unacceptable for some carers. None specifically reported the perspective of the person with dementia.

There was insufficient evidence from any studies to recommend any strategies. There remains an urgent need for both research and also clinical guidance for health professionals tailored to community settings where the majority of people with dementia live.

Item Type: Article
Identifier: 10.1186/1471-2318-12-77
Additional Information: © 2012 Drennan et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Dementia, Cognitive impairment, Incontinence, Community dwelling, Review, Carer/caregiver
Subjects: Medicine and health > Clinical medicine > Dementia
Medicine and health > Person centered care
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Laura Cole
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2021 10:15
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2024 16:05


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