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Urinary incontinence has far-reaching medical, psychological, social, and economic effects. The objectives of this descriptive study were to examine utilization patterns and discontinuation rates of various pharmacologic agents used to treat symptoms of overactive bladder, primarily urge incontinence (UI), and to estimate the prevalence of urinary incontinence in the study population. Patient-level data regarding specific drugs used to treat UI and the use of diapers or pads over a 9-month period from October 1995 to May 1996 were retrospectively extracted from the medication databases of 9 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. A total of 2233 male patients were included in the analyses. Most patients were receiving oxybutynin chloride (39.8%), dicyclomine hydrochloride (16.0%), or imipramine hydrochloride (13.9%), and the remaining 30.3% were using flavoxate hydrochloride, propantheline bromide, hyoscyamine sulfate, and adult diapers or pads. Overall, 72.1% of patients had been prescribed daily dosages within the recommended dosing ranges for these medications. The majority (91.3%) of patients had not switched to another UI medication during the study period. Based on a chronic disease index, 47.6% of patients had 2 or fewer chronic diseases. Using pooled prevalence estimates, the estimated percentage of patients who had ever experienced UI in this population ranged from 7.4% to 20.8%; however, a considerably smaller percentage were taking medications for the treatment of UI. The results of this study suggest that oxybutynin, dicyclomine, and imipramine are the agents most commonly used to treat urinary incontinence within Veterans Affairs medical centers. The majority of patients who received a prescription for one of these drugs did not routinely refill the medication over the course of the study. There are many reasons for patients not to refill a prescription (eg, ineffectiveness, side effects, complications, obtaining the drug from another source), but the present study did not address the causes.
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Accepted: February 18, 1999
© 1999 Published by Elsevier Inc.