Date of Award


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Selected Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Nursing




School of Nursing and Health Sciences



Urinary incontinence (UI) is a medical condition that plagues millions of women worldwide, negatively affecting their quality of life. UI is the involuntary release of urine or what women refer to as having “accidents.” Women suffering from UI often feel embarrassed and become socially isolated. The majority of studies in the literature focus on UI in postmenopausal women. However, very few studies explore the lived experience of living with UI as a premenopausal woman, who are at a time in their lives when they are involved in their careers, having intimate relationships with their partners, and are raising their children.


The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to uncover the lived experiences of premenopausal women living with UI and how it impacted their quality of life. The participants shared their stories and were able to shed light on this seriously overlooked and underestimated problem. The knowledge gained from the findings of this research study may help inform the generation of knowledge for both the patient and the provider, nursing practice, and academia.

Methods and Participants

A qualitative hermeneutic design was used in this study to discover the essence of living life with UI on the quality of life of premenopausal women. Telephone interviews were conducted with 13 premenopausal women from May to July 2021.


Five essential themes emerged from the study: (1) Fictitious Dialogue, (2) Strategic Planning, (3) A Walk in My Shoes, (4) Sailing on a Sea of Emotions, and (5) Barricades and Barriers to Care. Excerpts from the recorded transcripts were used to elucidate and illustrate the meanings that the experience of living with UI had for these women.

Major Findings

This study yielded a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of premenopausal women living with UI and permitted greater insight as to how this phenomenon impacted their quality of life. Their stories closely paralleled findings in the literature but also illuminated quality of life issues unique to this subset of women. Impacts of UI on body image, work, anxiety and depression, and intimacy were all uncovered. Barriers to care have been uncovered in prior studies, but this study reinforced how prevalent a problem this is to treating women expeditiously. Important rich data collected from this study provide an impetus for future research to further explore this phenomenon.

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Nursing Commons