McMaster University

McMaster University

Nursing professor introduces new guide for women with bladder issues

By Amanda Boundris

Jennifer Skelly

It is one of those things that nobody wants to talk about: bladder control issues.

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary release or leakage of urine and the problem is very common, especially among women. One in four Canadian women middle-aged or older experiences it, according to the Canadian Continence Foundation.

Many who have the condition are too embarrassed to discuss it with anyone, including their doctor. Some also mistakenly believe that this is a normal part of aging, or are not aware that others have the same problem.

"They suffer in silence," said Jennifer Skelly, an associate professor with the McMaster School of Nursing (SON) and director of the School’s Nurse Continence Advisor Program.

But women now have a tool to help them.

It’s a new Uninary Incontinence decision-making guide funded by Echo, an agency of Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care focused on improving women’s health, and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO).

The pocket-sized booklet is designed to help women with bladder problems better understand urinary incontinence, its causes, and the options available to manage this condition, as well as prepare them to discuss these options with their health care providers.

The team that developed the booklet was led by Skelly, a nurse continence advisor with over 20 years experience, and Tazim Virani, an assistant clinical professor with the SON and founding director of the RNAO’s Nursing Best Practice Guidelines program.

"There was no resource or decision-making guide to help women decide what to do about their incontinence treatment and how to talk to their doctors about it," said Skelly, who is also director of the Continence Programs at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

Skelly and another team member, Dr. Donna Fedorkow, who is a professor in McMaster’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, will introduce the booklet at an event for women on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. The event is for women aged 40 to 65 who may have bladder problems and are looking for help deciding their options.

The decision aid will be discussed in greater detail at the event, which is also an opportunity to ask questions of two specialists in an understanding, safe environment, said Skelly.

To reserve a seat at the event, call 905-573-4821.

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