Introduction and hypothesis: To systematically review evaluation guidelines of uncomplicated urinary incontinence (UI) in community-dwelling adult women to assess guidance available to the full range of providers treating UI. Methods: Systematic literature search of eight bibliographic databases. We included UI evaluation guidelines written for medical providers in English after January 1, 2008. Exclusion criteria: guidelines for children, men, institutionalized women, peripartum- and neurologic-related UI. A quantitative scoring system included assessed components and associated recommendation level and clarity. Results: Twenty-two guidelines met the criteria. All guidelines included: history taking, UI characterization, physical examination (PE) performance, urinalysis, and post-void residual volume assessment. At least 75% included medical and surgical history assessment, other disease process exclusion, medication review, impact on quality of life ascertainment, observing stress UI, mental status assessment, performing a pelvic examination, urine culture, bladder diary, and limiting more invasive diagnostics procedures. Fifty to 75% included other important evaluation components (i.e., assessing obstetric history, bowel symptoms, fluid intake, patient expectations/preferences/values, obesity, physical functioning/mobility, other PE [abdominal, rectal, pelvic muscle, and neurologic], urethral hypermobility, and pad testing. Less than 50% of guidelines included discussing patient treatment goals. Guidelines varied in level of detail and clarity, with several instances of unclear or inconsistent recommendations within the same guideline and evaluation components identified only by inference from treatment recommendations. Non-specialty guidelines reported fewer components with a lesser degree of clarity, but this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.20). Conclusions: UI evaluation guidelines varied in level of comprehensiveness, detail, and clarity. This variability may lead to inconsistent evaluations in the work-up of UI, contributing to missed opportunities for individualized care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2671-2691
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Urogynecology Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Evaluation
  • Guidelines
  • Personalized medicine
  • Systematic review
  • Urinary incontinence


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