Continence management in acute stroke :a survey of current practices in Australia

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Aim.  The aim of the study was to determine current national urinary incontinence management practices in Australian acute stroke units and their concordance with the National Stroke Foundation guidelines.

Background.  Urinary incontinence is a common consequence after stroke and a statistically significant indicator of poor outcome, including disability and admission to institutional care. The National Stroke Foundation has produced guidelines for the acute and post-acute phase of care, offering Australian nurses evidence-based recommendations regarding stroke management including the management of urinary incontinence.

Method.  In 2007–2008, dedicated acute stroke units in Australia were identified and a senior nurse from each unit was invited to participate in a 10-minute telephone survey to ascertain their current urinary continence management practices.

Results.  Representatives from 41 acute stroke units participated in the survey (response rate 98%). Participants from less than half of the units reported that they had a formal plan for urinary incontinence management (n = 19, 46%), and the majority of those who did not would find a formal plan useful (n = 15, 79%). Two-thirds of respondents stated that they would manage urinary incontinence with indwelling catheterization (n = 25, 61%). Only 30% (n = 12) were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with urinary continence management in their acute stroke unit.

Conclusion.  A large proportion of acute stroke units were yet to establish formal urinary incontinence management plans. The implementation of evidence-based urinary incontinence management plans after stroke is integral to improving patient outcomes. An increase in resources for professional development in the assessment, treatment and management of urinary incontinence is essential to improve and maintain skills in after-stroke care.

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Journal Article

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