Nursing ETDs

Publication Date



Urinary incontinence is a major health concern for midlife women, with demonstrated effects on self-concept, life-style, and sexual function. The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of midlife female urinary incontinence on the intimate dyad from a chronic illness perspective. The Corbin and Strauss Collaborative Chronic Illness Trajectory Model identifies biographical and relationship work engaged in when coping with a chronic health condition in the context of an intimate relationship. The specific aims of this study were to explore potential associations among urinary incontinence symptom severity, relationship satisfaction, biographical work factors (self-esteem, body image, depression, anxiety), and relationship work factors (relational ethics, sexual quality of life, incontinence-related communication) for insights into the impact of female urinary incontinence on the intimate dyad. Community-based, purposive, snowball recruitment resulted in enrollment of 57 women and 43 partners who completed anonymous, mailed surveys. Quantitative data were collected through completion of established instruments chosen as operationalized measures of theoretically-derived concepts. Qualitative data were collected through open-ended questions. No significant associations were found between urinary incontinence symptom severity and relationship satisfaction, measures of biographical work, or measures of relationship work. Womens biographical variables and relationship variables demonstrated moderate to strong correlations with each other (with the exception of self-esteem and incontinence-related communication) and with relationship satisfaction. Partners' incontinence-related communication scores demonstrated moderate to strong correlations with all women's biographical measures and all partners' relationship measures. Regression analyses demonstrated significant, unique contributions of relational ethics, sexual quality of life, and women's depression to the variance in relationship satisfaction scores. Women's and partners' scores on measures of the intimate relationship were not significantly different. Word frequency and themes identified in answers to open-ended questions demonstrated that the most frequently reported concerns by women and partners who scored in the distressed category for relationship satisfaction were women's avoidance of intimacy and loss of spontaneity in shared activities. This study offers insights into the relative contributions of factors that may affect relationship satisfaction for couples coping with female urinary incontinence. Further research is needed to better understand interrelationships among biopsychosocial factors involved in urinary incontinence symptom management.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

College of Nursing

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tinkle, Melinda

Second Committee Member

Stuifbergen, Alexa

Third Committee Member

Rogers, Rebecca

Fourth Committee Member

Bedrick, Edward


Gamma Sigma Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International


Corbin and Strauss Collaborative Chronic Illness Trajectory Model, dyadic analysis, female urinary incontinence, partners, psychosocial impact, relationship satisfaction



Document Type