Survey results for

May/July: Bladder

In May 2016, talkhealth undertook an extensive survey on its membership around concerns and awareness of bladder issues. It is estimated that bladder problems affect over 14 million people in the UK today. Despite bladder problems affecting so many of us, with people of all ages being at risk of developing a bladder issue, not just the elderly as so commonly thought, these problems are still not as openly discussed as they should be. As part of the development of our upcoming new bladder hub, we looked to our membership to help us understand better such concerns.

The vast majority of those who participated in the survey were female (87%), and the most common age bracket they fell into was between 41 and 50.

Bladder Habits

When discussing day to day bladder habits, 29% of people stated that they go to the toilet more than 10 times in a day, with a further 34% of people finding it quite difficult to hold their bladder when they feel the need to urinate. It was apparent that bladder problems do affect many people’s sleeping habits, with 35% of people stating that they wake up every night to go to the toilet.

Close to two thirds of respondents stated that they do suddenly feel the need to urinate without warning, and 66% of people answered that they have experienced urine ‘leakage’, for example when they cough or sneeze.

When asked about drinking habits, 53% of people answered that they do avoid drinking as a way of preventing the need to go to the toilet, arguably to avoid the need to wake so frequently during the night too. Despite the high volume of people who do wake during the night to visit the toilet, only 10% of people have or do wet the bed.

Close to half of respondents reported that they don’t carry out any pelvic floor exercises at all to aid their bladder control.

Respondents were asked about illnesses they, or someone they know, suffer with and whether those illnesses affect bladder habits. Certain conditions, such as Alzheimer's, Spina Bifida and Parkinsons, only affected a small percentage of the people that took the survey. When discussing pregnancy however, almost 10% of respondents answered that they had bladder problems either while pregnant or post pregnancy making it the most common causes of bladder problems in our survey. Spinal cord injuries and prostate issues were the second and third most common reasons for bladder issues.

Around two thirds of respondents had not visited their GP regarding any bladder or urine issues, with a large proportion (78%) of people answering that they had not been diagnosed with a bladder or urine related disease or condition, despite suffering with symptoms affecting their toilet habits.

What would you do?

Respondents were asked what they would do if they suspected that they had a bladder related issue. The most popular answers (in order) were to make an appointment with their GP (79%) and visit talkhealth for information (28%).

Your bladder condition

Respondents who had previously answered that they did have a bladder problem were then asked more detailed questions about their condition. Overactive Bladder, Stress Urinary Incontinence and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) were the most common conditions people had been diagnosed with, with almost half being diagnosed with an Overactive Bladder.

Many then took the opportunity to describe in detail how their bladder problem makes them feel and how it impacts them when carrying out day to day tasks. Here are some of the most significant responses:

“I hate travelling, I am always having to find a toilet and everything is based around where a toilet is. It defines my life. I am just glad I can hold it in better than most as I am yet to wet myself.”

“Humiliating, I have to take spare clothes EVERY place I go, including work, it makes me feel totally less than a woman I've only been married 2.5yrs and for my husband to see this is heart breaking.”

“My bladder problems are degrading as I have to self-catheterise. This makes using 'public toilets' nearly impossible due to infection risk as most are disgusting. And too small for my needs.”

Interestingly, 18% of people had visited their doctor immediately after realising that they had a bladder problem; however 17% of people waited over 2 years to seek diagnosis from their doctor.

After visiting their doctor regarding their bladder problem, a third of people were diagnosed straight away, but for 13% it took 1-2 years to get a proper diagnosis.

A huge 92% of people who struggled with a bladder problem had not taken part in any form of patient support programme. Likewise, 92% of those we surveyed said they felt there wasn’t enough regular support once they had been diagnosed. Respondents felt they would benefit from access to regular support including facilities such as a help line, emails with hints and tips, and contact with medical professionals and other people suffering with bladder issues.

With the launch of our talkbladder hub, members will have access to information and advice through our bladder patient journey and expert articles. Members can also be in direct contact with experts and other members who also suffer with bladder problems, allowing for optimum communication. Plus we are hoping to launch a Patient Support Programme that will support patients and carers individually through a six month period.

Medication and Treatment

Surprisingly, almost two thirds of people who did struggle with bladder issues did not buy over the counter products to help with their bladder issues. For the 39% that did buy over the counter products, the most frequently purchased products were incontinence pads.

When asked about catheters and self-catheterisation, 34% of people had either used a catheter in the past or was currently using a catheter, with 5% of people needing to be catheterised permanently.

Of those people who do, or used to, catheterise, over 22% self-catheterised with the majority being carried out by a healthcare professional. For those who do self-catheterise, almost half have their catheters delivered to their home.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this survey. Your answers have helped in the creation of our newest hub which will provide the support and information to others suffering with bladder issues.

If you're interested in a detailed analysis of the results for these surveys please contact us.