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The impact of incontinence management on informal caregivers’ quality of life



The presence of incontinence symptoms might affect the quality of life (QoL) of those providing informal care to people suffering from them, causing social isolation, financial problems, psychological and physical exhaustion.


This study aimed at assessing whether urinary and/or fecal incontinence in people aged 60 and over affects the level of burden in their informal caregivers.


QoL was assessed amongst 304 informal caregivers of older people suffering from urinary and/or fecal incontinence, and compared to that reported by 305 caregivers of non-incontinent older relatives, all living in Italy. All participants were administered a questionnaire focused on: characteristics and conditions of the cared for; details of the care activity; emotions experienced by caregivers; attitudes of caregivers; reasons for providing care; availability of information and support; demographics.


Findings show that, when no incontinence was reported, the longer was the caregiving situation, the better was the caregivers’ QoL, which was instead negatively affected by the lack of a support network. As for caregivers’ feelings, neither positive nor negative emotions influenced their QoL in a significant way. In terms of caregiver’s role, those who felt overwhelmed or loaded with responsibility reported a lower QoL, while the opposite was found among those who felt rewarded and supported, even when incontinence—of any kind—was present.


The management of incontinence does have a negative impact on caregivers’ QoL, but subjective factors might play a mitigating role on such an impact.

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Fig. 1



Quality of life


Older person with incontinence


Older person without incontinence


Principal component analysis


Ordinary least squares


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The study whose dataset this article is based upon and the editorial support were financed by SCA (Svenska Cellulose Aktiebolaget). The data analysis and the drafting of this article were partly funded by Eurocarers. The authors wish to thank Jon Weeks, Gemma Maurimootoo, Alexander Parker and Freya Benson from Ipsos MORI for assisting with the design of the questionnaire and providing the data. Many thanks also to Liana Spazzafumo from INRCA for her advice on statistical analysis.

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest has been declared by the authors.

Human and Animal Rights

The data collection for the study was completed by Ipsos within all the guidelines set out by the Market Research Society, and also ESOMAR standards.

Informed consent

Ipsos provides respondent anonymity in any data collected, ensuring that they enter into any research study with informed consent, and able to cease the interview at any point should they wish to.

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Correspondence to Mirko Di Rosa.

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Di Rosa, M., Lamura, G. The impact of incontinence management on informal caregivers’ quality of life. Aging Clin Exp Res 28, 89–97 (2016).

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  • Incontinence
  • Caregivers
  • Psychological burden
  • Quality of life
  • Aging