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Research Priorities

In December 2007, with vigorous encouragement from IFFGD, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted an NIH State-of-the-Science Conference on Prevention of Fecal and Urinary Incontinence in Adults. The conference resulted in a strong statement by the NIH about the huge unmet need of those who are affected by incontinence.

The NIH Panel reported that fewer than half of individuals experiencing incontinence report their symptoms to healthcare providers without being prompted. The secrecy and distress surrounding these issues erode the quality of life for millions, and hamper scientific understanding and development of prevention and treatment strategies.

The Panel reported, raising public awareness is a priority to aid in prevention and to help reduce the stigma associated with incontinence.

People experiencing incontinence need to know that they are not alone, that incontinence does not have to be a part of aging, and that the condition can be managed. Being able to talk about it is the first step in both prevention and treatment.

The full state-of-the-science conference report can be read on this NIH web page.

The Need for Research

The research base of current health care delivery for incontinence is relatively limited. While there are many treatments available–medical, behavioral, and surgical–few randomized trials in support of these treatments have been published. The reasons for this include the wide range of causes and contributing factors to incontinence, multiplicity and differences in patient populations by age and by gender, and technical issues in validating as well as measuring outcomes, all of which have complicated consistent study designs. However, recent advances in methodology make new research opportunities possible. Additionally, the implementation by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) of two research networks focusing on urinary incontinence and on pelvic floor disorders has contributed to expanding the knowledge of how to conduct valid studies.

Previous Conferences

This 2007 State-of-the-Science conference is an outgrowth of the first two IFFGD sponsored meetings held in Milwaukee in 1999, the Consensus Conference on Treatment Options for Fecal Incontinence, and the 2nd Consensus Conference on Advancing the Treatment of Fecal & Urinary Incontinence Through Research: Trial Design, Outcome Measures, and Research Priorities, held in 2002.

The aim of the first meeting was to draft a statement to summarize available treatment options that could be used by primary care physicians in the treatment of patients.

The aims of the second meeting were to summarize available literature on outcome measures, predictors of successful treatment, and research design and to identify the priorities for research from several professional perspectives. The ultimate goal of this series of meetings is to advance research on the treatment of incontinence.

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