Three questions may help distinguish stress, urge incontinence

August 3, 2006

A three-question, noninvasive test appears to accurately classify stress and urge incontinence, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2006; 144:715-23).

A three-question, noninvasive test appears to accurately classify stress and urge incontinence, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2006; 144:715-23).

The multicenter study enrolled 301 women (mean age, 56 years) with untreated incontinence for an average of 7 years and a range of incontinence severity. The women answered three incontinence questions that comprise the 3IQ test and then responded to an extended evaluation to determine urge or stress incontinence.

The responses to the three questions were compared with responses of the extended evaluation, which was considered the gold standard. When classifying urge incontinence, the 3IQ questionnaire had a sensitivity of .75 (95% CI, .68-.81), specificity of .77 (CI, .69-.84), and a positive likelihood ratio of 3.29 (CI, 2.39 to 4.51). When classifying stress incontinence, the questionnaire had a sensitivity of .86 (CI, .79-.90), specificity of .60 (CI, .51-.68), and a positive likelihood ratio of 2.13 (CI 1.71-2.66).

Researchers, led by Jeannette S. Brown, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, acknowledged that similar studies are needed in other populations, and clinical trials are needed to compare the outcomes of treatments based on the three-question test and the extended evaluation.