Principal investigator: Eleanor van den Heuvel
This project aims to investigate the effectiveness of an international continence promotion strategy aimed at community-dwelling older women. We are running workshops in Quebec, France, Western Canada and the UK. The workshop challenges the myth that incontinence is a normal part of ageing and explains some simple self help strategies so that women can improve their own bladder health. We empower women with the knowledge and confidence to know that they should not suffer in silence and that medical help should be sought if bladder symptoms persist.
The project is a randomized controlled trial across Western Canada, Quebec, France and the UK testing an evidence based continence promotion workshop program against a sham control for older community dwelling women. The continence promotion program is grounded in theories of effective knowledge transfer, behaviour change, and constructivist learning, and aims to incite women with incontinence to consult for treatment or to initiate evidence-based self-management.
The intervention is delivered as a single 60-minute interactive workshop led by a researcher to a group of 8-16 community-dwelling women. Through discussions, illustrations and case examples, participants are made to understand that incontinence is common but should not be considered a normal part of ageing. Modifiable strategies for risk reduction are recommended and the availability and effectiveness of non-pharmacological, pharmacological and surgical treatment options for different types of incontinence are also discussed.
The Dare to age Well workshop has been shown to be effective in reducing incontinence in community dwelling women and, maybe more importantly, most women who complete the workshop learn that incontinence is not normal with age and they should not ignore bladder symptoms. The successful workshop is been translated into a website with interactive tool to help women identify problematic bladder symptoms, and understand what they can do to improve bladder health. We are also developing a simple training package that will allow community volunteers to delivers to workshop in their own locality.