Survey highlights knowledge gap in OAB awareness among long-term care providers

A recent survey of Directors of Nursing (DONs) in US long-term care facilities showed a tremendous knowledge gap among long-term care providers regarding overactive bladder–related urinary incontinence.1,2

The survey, which was funded by Urovant Sciences and published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, underscored how this knowledge gap is negatively affecting patient care. For example, despite over 60% of patients at the DONs’ facilities having urinary incontinence, only 14% were being treated with medication to alleviate the symptoms.

“The survey emphasizes the need for improved OAB awareness and education in the long-term care provider community. A significant unmet need remains among long-term care residents with incontinence related to OAB,” Sef Kurstjens, MD, PhD, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Urovant Sciences, stated in a news release.

The research comprised a 70-question quantitative online survey administered between February 27, 2020, and May 11, 2020. Overall, 71 DONs submitted fully completed surveys. All of the DONs had worked for ≥1 year at a skilled nursing facility with at least 100 beds, ≥80% of which were long-term care beds.

Across these facilities, 62% of residents had urinary incontinence, and 40% of these individuals were always incontinent. The data also showed that over one-third (36%) of these residents experienced falls while trying to reach the bathroom.

As noted, few (14%) of the residents with urinary incontinence were being treated with medication. Most of the patients had to cope with their symptoms with the assistance of adult incontinence products.

The survey also showed that even if the use of incontinence medications was increased, awareness and education gaps would still need to be filled regarding the side effects and appropriate patients for the treatments. For example, 75% of DONs did not know about research indicating a potential association between anticholinergic therapy and increased risk of cognitive side effects, despite anticholinergics being the medication used most for incontinent residents.

“Our survey suggests that long-term care residents with mobility issues, especially those requiring staff help for toileting, may benefit from safe and efficacious medication to control urgency, allowing more time to access the toilet,” lead study author Richard Stefanacci, DO, of the Jefferson College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “For these patients, drug therapy that does not add to anticholinergic burden may be most appropriate.”

Reference

1. The Impact of Urinary Incontinence Related to Overactive Bladder on Long-Term Care Residents and Facilities in the U.S. Highlighted in New Survey. Published online July 13, 2022. Accessed July 19, 2022. https://bwnews.pr/3PlUAN8

2. Stefanacci RG, Yeaw J, Shah D, Newman DK, Kincaid A, Mudd PN Jr. Impact of urinary incontinence related to overactive bladder on long-term care residents and facilities: a perspective from directors of nursing. J Gerontol Nurs. 2022;48(7):38-46. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20220606-06