A smartphone app for self-management of urgency and mixed urinary incontinence: a randomized controlled trial

Wadensten T1, Nyström E2, Franzén K3, Stenzelius K4, Lindam A5, Samuelsson E1

Research Type


Abstract Category


Abstract 487
Best Conservative Management
Scientific Podium Session 25
Friday 6th September 2019
09:15 - 09:30
Hall H2
Clinical Trial Urgency Urinary Incontinence Mixed Urinary Incontinence Conservative Treatment Pelvic Floor
1.Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Family Medicine, Umeå University, Sweden, 2.Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Unit of Research, Education and Development - Östersund, Umeå University, Sweden, 3.Women’s Clinic, Örebro University Hospital, School of Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden, 4.Department of Care Sciences, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden; Skåne University Hospital, Malmö/Lund, Sweden, 5.Unit of Research, Education, and Development, Östersund Hospital, Sweden

Towe Wadensten



Hypothesis / aims of study
Urgency (UUI) and mixed (MUI) urinary incontinence are common clinical problems. They account for almost half of all cases of urinary incontinence (UI) in women [1], and have a potentially large impact on quality of life. Nonetheless, many women are reluctant to seek treatment, sometimes due to UI being a stigmatized condition. The recommended first-line treatment for UUI and MUI is pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) and lifestyle advice [2], with bladder training as a valuable complement to the treatment. Previous studies have shown that a smartphone app was an effective form of self-management for women with stress urinary incontinence (SUI), both in terms of treatment efficacy [3] and cost-effectiveness. On-going studies show promising results of the app once it was made freely available for download, and a further study of the user experience of the app found that the app provided an appreciated and satisfactory experience. In this study, we aimed to evaluate whether a new smartphone app for the self-management of UUI and MUI in women was effective, in comparison to app-based information only.
Study design, materials and methods
Between April 2017 and March 2018, women were consecutively recruited to this randomized controlled trial (RCT) via a screening questionnaire on the homepage of the research project. The trial has been Clinical Trials registered. The inclusion criteria were as follows: woman (gender self-stated and sex assigned at birth), ≥18 years, UUI or MUI with ≥2 leakages/week and ≥12 months of symptom duration. Pregnant women or women who used another PFMT app or anti-muscarinic drugs were not eligible to participate in the study. In order to identify and redirect cases that were better suited to receive usual care, an algorithm was developed by a team of professionals with both clinical and scientific experience from fields such as urogynecology, general practice, urology and incontinence care. The algorithm included questions on the person’s history of cancer in the pelvic region, diabetes, and neurological symptoms and diseases, as well as questions on certain alarm symptoms (e.g. painful urges, dysuria, haematuria, metrorrhagia, recurring urinary tract infections, bladder-emptying difficulties and pyelonephritis). The presence of any alarm symptom led to the respondent being classified as not eligible for the study and instead recommended to contact their usual medical care provider. 

Women who passed the screening questionnaire and submitted an email address received information about the study, and were asked to fill in an Informed Consent form, a two-day bladder diary and a baseline questionnaire which included the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire Urinary Incontinence Short Form (ICIQ-UI SF), which provides a validated UI symptom score (range 0 - 21 points) with questions on frequency, amount and overall impact. Respondents were then contacted by telephone for an interview during which the symptom-based diagnosis of UUI or MUI was determined, and questions about alarm symptoms and UI symptoms were asked to ensure that the respondent was truly eligible for the study. Throughout the study, there was no face-to-face contact between the research group and the participants, only communication by email and telephone.

The participants were randomized 1:1 to the two groups using sealed opaque envelopes prepared by an independent administrator who generated the randomization plan via the online randomization tool at http://www.randomization.com. Women randomized to the intervention group received access to the Treatment App, a smartphone app built on four themes: PFMT; bladder training; psychological education; and lifestyle information (Figure 1). The PFMT and bladder training parts of the app included 11-step and 7-step training programmes, respectively, in addition to information on pelvic floor anatomy and bladder physiology. The psychological education contained information on psychological topics related to UI, and three optional exercises. The Treatment App also offered an option to set three different times for reminder notifications, as well as an automated feedback function. In addition, the app included individual advice based on information from questionnaires and the bladder diary. The advice was generated via a pre-designed template and offered guidance to the most relevant parts of the app for each user. The control group received access to the Information App, a very limited version of the app, containing only brief information on the different topics and no training programmes or other features.

Three months after randomization, the participants were asked to fill in a follow-up questionnaire and another bladder diary. In this abstract we present the results of the analysis of the primary outcome measure, the ICIQ-UI SF, measured at baseline and follow-up. Analyses of secondary outcomes, including incontinence episode frequency, are currently on-going and will be presented at a later date.

Sample size calculation: Based on the findings of previous studies, improvements in the ICIQ-UI SF of 2.5 points in the Treatment App group and 0.9 points in the Information App group were assumed. To detect this difference with 80% power, 2-side test and a significance of 0.05, a sample size of 49 women was needed in each group. To allow for a dropout rate of 20%, each group needed to include 60 participants, and we therefore aimed to recruit 120 women in total.

Statistical analysis: We performed Intention to Treat analysis by using a linear mixed model to estimate the difference between the groups in the ICIQ-UI SF at follow-up. A paired t-test was used for within-groups comparisons of the mean ICIQ-UI SF scores at baseline and follow-up.
123 women were randomized to receive the Treatment App (n=60) or the Information App (n=63). The groups did not differ significantly in baseline measures (e.g. age, BMI, education level) nor in the mean ICIQ-UI SF scores. The mean age was 58.30 (SD 9.55) years and the mean BMI was 26.17 (SD 4.47) kg/m². The symptom-based diagnosis of MUI was more common (n=88) than that of UUI (n=35), and this distribution was equal across the two groups. The majority of women had moderate (n=73), severe (n=43) or very severe (n=4) incontinence, based on the ICIQ-UI SF scores. Two women, both in the Treatment App group, were lost to follow-up. Participants in both groups improved with regard to the mean ICIQ-UI SF score at follow-up (Treatment App group -4.67 (-5.65 to -3.69, 95% CI, p <0.001) and Information App group -1.64 (-2.31 to -0.96, 95% CI, p <0.001)). The improvement was significantly larger in the Treatment App group (p = 0.001) (Figure 2).
Interpretation of results
Self-management of UUI or MUI using a mobile app led to highly significant improvements in incontinence symptoms with a significant difference compared to a control group. Thus the findings in this study show that the use of an app that includes treatment with PFMT, bladder training, psychological education and lifestyle advice was effective for women with UUI or MUI.
Concluding message
Previous studies have shown that a smartphone app is an effective, easily accessible and appreciated first-line treatment option for women with SUI. The findings in the current study indicate that, provided that certain alarm symptoms or risk factors are not present, a smartphone app may be a useful addition to first-line treatment options for women with UUI or MUI who are interested in eHealth self-management.
Figure 1 Screenshots from the Treatment App
Figure 2 Treatment outcome
  1. Hannestad YS, Rortveit G, Sandvik H, Hunskaar S, Norwegian EPINCONT study. Epidemiology of Incontinence in the County of Nord-Trøndelag. A community-based epidemiological survey of female urinary incontinence: the Norwegian EPINCONT study. Epidemiology of Incontinence in the County of Nord-Trøndelag. J Clin Epidemiol. 2000 Nov;53(11):1150–7.
  2. Dumoulin C, Adewuyi T, Booth J, Bradley C, Burgio K, Hagen S, et al. Adult conservative management. In: Abrams P, Cardozo L, Wagg A, Wein A editor(s). Incontinence: 6th International Consultation on Incontinence, Tokyo, September 2016. Bristol, UK: International Continence Society (ICS) and International Consultation on Urological Diseases (ICUD), 2017:1443–628.
  3. Asklund I, Nyström E, Sjöström M, Umefjord G, Stenlund H, Samuelsson E. Mobile app for treatment of stress urinary incontinence: A randomized controlled trial. Neurourol Urodyn. 2016 Sep 9; 9999: 1–8
Funding The study was funded by Swedish Research Council for Health, Working and Welfare; The Kamprad Family Foundation; and the Region Jämtland Härjedalen Clinical Trial Yes Registration Number Clinical Trials (ID NCT 03097549) RCT Yes Subjects Human Ethics Committee Regional Ethical Review Board, Umeå, Sweden (Dnr 2016/523-31) Helsinki Yes Informed Consent Yes
09/06/2024 01:57:00