Cooperating to improve treatment and raise awareness of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS)

The LUTS project has set a strong basis for improving health services and promoting the social inclusion of women. The research activities focused on the experience of those who needed support and looked at the services that were available. By taking a cross-border approach, the project was able to see the impact of culture and healthcare systems on treatment.

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Ferry Campaign, 2014 © Annika Waldmann Ferry Campaign, 2014 © Annika Waldmann

" The deeper understanding of the German and the Danish culture and healthcare system explains a lot of the results that were gained in our study. This very important aspect was only made possible by the regular meetings and discussions among the project partners. "

Annika Waldmann, Roskilde Sygehus

The main objective of the projects was to identify the prevalence of urinary incontinence among women in the general population and assess their help-seeking behaviour. A survey was conducted among 8 000 women in the Fehmarnbelt region. Around 45 % of those who participated reported some level of LUTS that affected their quality of life. The second part of the study focused on healthcare provision, doctors were found to be unaware of the extent of the problem and rarely spoke about it during their consultations with patients. In general, they felt uncomfortable raising the issue. There were also considerable differences in providing up-to-date guidance on effective treatment. 

There are several types of incontinence and many treatment options. But most women who struggle with involuntary urination suffer emotionally and socially. For many women this results in social exclusion and stress. Treatments and support are available, but understanding by those who suffer and healthcare professionals needs to be greatly improved.

Communication efforts

One of the most important aspects of the project was to effectively reach out and communicate to the target groups of women and physicians. This was done through meetings and through articles in the local press. A ‘Ferry Campaign’, in which women donned t-shirts to highlight the problem, was organised. The project also highlighted the story of a woman who had suffered from the stress and difficulties associated with LUTS; a video showed how she had found help through contacting her doctor and seeking treatment. The project will publish their results in scientific journals, leading to wider understanding of the results.

The LUTS APP

Many women with incontinence are still reluctant to go to their doctor if they experience discomfort, despite the fact that many can be helped through existing treatments. Women gave many reasons for their reluctance to talk about these issues, including embarrassment and fear that it was not serious enough and that they would not be taken seriously. The idea of creating a smartphone app based on the results is being explored. An app could make it easier to overcome help-seeking barriers and help direct women to the right treatment.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “LUTS – Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms” was EUR 1 015 601, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 582 800 from the Operational Programme “Interreg IV A Fehmarnbelt Region” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date

18/12/2015

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