Psychology can help with incontinence treatment

Incontinence affects 25% of women in the UK, and can impact 50-60% in those who have experienced childbirth or who are over 60.

Unfortunately, though common, such problems are rarely discussed, but can be debilitating, as well as being associated with NHS costs estimated at £1.8bn per year.

Women’s Health Physiotherapy can provide effective and safe treatment for a relatively low public cost.  However, joint research by Swansea’s Singleton Hospital and Swansea University has shown that physiotherapy outcomes are affected by patients’ mental states, and that many women experiencing continence problems are anxious and depressed [Link to Khan et al., 2012].

This research shows that supporting women psychologically both before and during pelvic floor muscle training makes them more likely to attend for treatment, stay for the full course of treatment, and improves their continence [link to Osborne et al].

The team is now pioneering new ways to include psychological support to boost women’s confidence in seeking help for this problem (

This research is helping to change practice by being discussed at professional training events, and is raising public awareness of the issue through media attention [Link to Western Mail media piece], and an address to the Assembly Government for Wales [link to WAG news story].


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