Clustering of patients with overactive bladder syndrome

James Gross, Joel M. Vetter, H. Henry Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Overactive bladder is a heterogenous condition with poorly characterized clinical phenotypes. To discover potential patient subtypes in patients with overactive bladder (OAB), we used consensus clustering of their urinary symptoms and other non-urologic factors. Methods: Clinical variables included in the k-means consensus clustering included OAB symptoms, urinary incontinence, anxiety, depression, psychological stress, somatic symptom burden, reported childhood traumatic exposure, and bladder pain. Results: 48 OAB patients seeking care of their symptoms were included. k-means consensus clustering identified two clusters of OAB patients: a urinary cluster and a systemic cluster. The systemic cluster, which consisted of about half of the cohort (48%), was characterized by significantly higher psychosocial burden of anxiety (HADS-A, 9.5 vs. 3.7, p < 0.001), depression (HADS-D, 6.9 vs. 3.6, p < 0.001), psychological stress (PSS, 21.4 vs. 12.9, p < 0.001), somatic symptom burden (PSPS-Q, 28.0 vs. 7.5, p < 0.001), and reported exposure to traumatic stress as a child (CTES, 17.0 vs. 5.4, p < 0.001), compared to the urinary cluster. The systemic cluster also reported more intense bladder pain (3.3 vs. 0.8, p = 0.002), more widespread distribution of pain (34.8% vs. 4.0%, p = 0.009). The systemic cluster had worse urinary incontinence (ICIQ-UI, 14.0 vs. 10.7, p = 0.028) and quality of life (SF-36, 43.7 vs. 74.6, p < 0.001). The two clusters were indistinguishable by their urgency symptoms (ICIQ-OAB, OAB-q, IUSS, 0–10 ratings). The two OAB clusters were different from patients with IC/BPS (worse urgency incontinence and less pain). Conclusions: The OAB population is heterogeneous and symptom-based clustering has identified two clusters of OAB patients (a systemic cluster vs. a bladder cluster). Understanding the pathophysiology of OAB subtypes may facilitate treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalBMC urology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Clustering
  • Overactive bladder
  • Phenotyping


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