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Open Access Research article

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

Vari M Drennan1*, Nan Greenwood1, Laura Cole1, Mandy Fader2, Robert Grant1, Greta Rait3 and Steve Iliffe4

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health & Social Care Sciences, St. George’s University of London & Kingston University, Cranmer Terrace, London SW170RE, United Kingdom (UK

2 Faculty of Health Sciences, Southampton University, High field, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK

3 PRIMENT Clinical Trials Unit, Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London Medical School (Royal Free Campus), Rowland Hill Street, London, NW3 2PF, UK

4 Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London Medical School (Royal Free Campus), Rowland Hill Street, London, NW3 2PF, UK

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BMC Geriatrics 2012, 12:77  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-77

Published: 28 December 2012

Abstract

Background

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.

Method

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Keywords:
Dementia; Cognitive impairment; Incontinence; Community dwelling; Review; Carer/caregiver