Last Updated: 2008-01-09 13:31:29 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In older women with urge urinary incontinence (UI), biofeedback therapy improves not only symptoms of incontinence but also psychological outcomes, especially in patients with a history of depression, a study shows.

"Psychological factors are relevant outcome measures for UI, and these data suggest that focusing on UI frequency alone may have underestimated biofeedback’s efficacy and additional therapeutic benefits," the study team concludes.

Dr. Stasa D. Tadic from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and colleagues analyzed the effect of 8 weeks of biofeedback and behavioral training in urge suppression on UI symptoms and psychological burden in 42 community-dwelling women aged 60 and older with urge UI.

For the group as a whole, biofeedback significantly improved incontinence frequency by 45%. It also improved psychological burden by 15.8 points, or 22.4%, on the Urge Impact Scale, the team reports in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.

When stratified according to history of depression, improvements in UI frequency were similar for both subgroups, but improvement in psychological outcomes was roughly twice as great in women with a history of depression, particularly on the perception of control subscale. Psychological improvement was not related to baseline depressive symptoms.

"These findings," Dr. Tadic and colleagues conclude, "suggest that it may be worth screening patients with urge UI for a history of depression, as suggested by others, especially if therapy for depression is found to further enhance the response to biofeedback."

J Am Geriatr Soc 2007;55:2010-2015.