To survey continence specialists (CSs) about their assessment practice including their use of quality of life (QoL) information, perceived barriers, benefits and training needs.
Cross-sectional national postal survey of 624 practicing CSs in the UK. The questionnaire included open and closed questions relating to assessment practice.
Completed questionnaires were returned by 299 (49%) CSs. Although 80% routinely assessed QoL, fewer than 54% demonstrated awareness of published questionnaires. The majority used structured questions (41%) many of which were non-standardised single items (26%) or locally developed questionnaires (19%). Only 22% used standardised patient-completed questionnaires such as the King’s Health Questionnaire and the Incontinence Quality of Life questionnaire. Perceived assessment barriers included the availability of appropriate questionnaires, patient disability, limited guidance, resources and time. Of those routinely assessing QoL, 77% wanted more support; the most useful media cited being the internet, followed by professional guidance and training courses.
Although QoL measurement is highly valued, there was wide variation in assessment practice with few adopting standardised approaches. Most CSs require greater guidance and support that takes account of their diverse needs. Familiar assessment barriers exist which the use of web-based information, in association with professional guidance might help overcome. Clear mechanisms are required to direct standardised and appropriate assessment practice.