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Suffering in silence- Asian women and incontinence

Urinary incontinence is an important health problem affecting an estimated 5 million women in the UK.

Dr Angie Doshani at the University of Leicester has carried out a study into urinary incontinence in South Asian women, which has not only highlighted the social and psychological effects that urinary incontinence has within ethnic minority communities, but has also raised the importance of culturally sensitive continence care.

Dr Doshani, who is working with the Urogynaecology Department at the Leicester General Hospital and East Leicester Medical Practice, commented: “This study highlights the unmet needs of the Asian community. Leicester has a diverse ethnic population and ascertaining the level of awareness, impact on quality of life and barriers to access to care for incontinence among these ethnic minority groups is crucial”

Many women suffer in silence whilst experiencing urinary symptoms, as they are too embarrassed to seek help. On average women took over 4 years to seek the help they needed. Of those that did many found their journey through the healthcare system to be disappointing.

It was found that Asian women reported higher rates of urinary incontinence and increased severity of symptoms than Caucasian women from a similar environment, thus, impacting on the quality of their daily life.

Dr Doshani also carried out a cross cultural study exploring the effect of migration on incontinence. As the majority of South Asian women in Leicester come from Gujarat in India, this study was performed in collaboration with the University of Baroda.

This study is the first of its kind in trying to understand the influence culture has on the migrant Asian woman in regards to urinary incontinence and demonstrates the need to understand the cultural aspects of the community in order to provide culturally competent care.

“I would like to thank all the women who participated in the study. With their help, we have gained a valuable insight into understanding the continence needs within the community as well as suggestions on appropriate ways to empower women to seek help.

“Not only do we need to increase knowledge within the community, we need healthcare professionals to take a proactive approach in dealing with urinary incontinence,” Dr Doshani said.

Dr Angie Doshani is a clinical lecturer in the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine at the University of Leicester and a senior registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

During her training she developed an interest in urogynaecology. She has carried out research in the area of urodynamics (special test for diagnosing urinary incontinence) and its correlation to conservative management, as well as assessing anxiety levels in women attending for this test.

During the clinics she noted that the ethnic minority women were unrepresented in the patient population. This led to the development of this research project.

She aims to continue further research with her clinical work in the area of urogynaecology and ethnic minority women’s health.

The research is being presented to the public at the University of Leicester on Thursday 26th June. The Festival of Postgraduate Research introduces employers and the public to the next generation of innovators and cutting-edge researchers, and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to explain the real world implications of their research to a wide ranging audience.

Ather Mirza | alfa
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