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NIH Office of the Director (OD)

NIH Office of Medical Applications
of Research (OMAR)

For Immediate Release
Monday, December 3, 2007

Lisa Ahramjian

NIH to Hold Conference on Fecal and Urinary Incontinence, December 10 - 12
Panel will issue objective statement on preventing these distressing conditions

To many, incontinence is seen as a shameful secret rather than a treatable medical condition. Though treatments are available, developing prevention strategies and identifying risk factors has been challenging. The conference will explore what we know and what we need to learn about both fecal and urinary incontinence.

What: Experts will summarize the available evidence on prevention of fecal and urinary incontinence in adults December 10 - 12. Following a series of scientific presentations and open public discussions, an impartial, independent panel will issue a statement of its findings on the final day of the conference, and will hold a press conference at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12. Convened by the Office of Medical Applications of Research (OMAR) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the NIH, this conference is free and open to the public and the media.

The conference presentations, open discussions, and the panel’s statement will focus on these questions:

  1. What are the prevalence, incidence, and natural history of fecal and urinary incontinence in the community and long-term care settings?
  2. What is the burden of illness and impact of fecal and urinary incontinence on the individual and society?
  3. What are the risk factors for fecal and urinary incontinence?
  4. What can be done to prevent fecal and urinary incontinence?
  5. What are the strategies to improve the identification of persons at risk and patients who have fecal and urinary incontinence?
  6. What are the research priorities in reducing the burden of illness in these conditions?
When: Monday, December 10, 2007 - 8:30 am - 5:15 pm
Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - 8:30 am - 12:40 pm
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Press Conference: Wednesday, December 12, 2:00 p.m.

Natcher Conference Center
NIH Main Campus - Building 45
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892

Campus visitor information: http://www.nih.gov/about/visitor/index.htm

The conference will also be webcast live at http://videocast.nih.gov/. (Reporters viewing the press conference via webcast will be able to submit questions on-line through the videocast website.)


Fecal and urinary incontinence — the inability to control bowel movements or urination, respectively — are conditions with ramifications that extend well beyond their physical manifestations. Many people find themselves withdrawing from their social lives and attempting to hide the problem from their families, friends, and even their doctors. The embarrassing nature of these conditions poses a significant barrier to seeking professional treatment, resulting in a large number of unreported, untreated individuals. Incontinence is more likely to affect the aging population, although it is not considered a normal consequence of aging. As baby boomers approach their 60s, the incidence and public health burden of incontinence are likely to increase.

Fecal incontinence affects up to 5 percent of the general population and up to 39 percent of nursing home residents. It affects people of all ages, but is more common in women and the elderly. Although urinary incontinence can affect people at all stages of life, it has been estimated that urinary incontinence affects 38 percent of women and 17 percent of men 60 years of age and older.

Because incontinence is likely widely underdiagnosed and underreported, it has been difficult to identify both at-risk and affected populations. Also, because the biological mechanisms that cause both fecal and urinary incontinence are not well understood, it has been difficult to develop robust prevention and management strategies. This conference was designed to facilitate an objective review of the available evidence to clarify what is known and what research gaps remain concerning the conference questions.

Background: The conference is presented through the NIH Consensus Development Program. A fact sheet describing the conference process is available at http://consensus.nih.gov/forthemedia.htm.
For More Information:

Conference agenda, speakers, logistics, and online registration are available at http://consensus.nih.gov.

To schedule interviews, please contact Lisa Ahramjian by e-mail at AhramjianL@od.nih.gov or by phone at (301) 496-4999.

Note to Reporters: Reporters viewing the press conference via webcast at http://videocast.nih.gov will be able to submit questions on-line through the videocast Web site beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12.
Note to TV Editors: The press conference on Wednesday, December 12 will be broadcast live via satellite at the following coordinates:
Satellite C-Band
G3R transponder 23
Orbital location: 95 degrees west
Downlink frequency: 3760H
Audio: 6.2/6.8
Test Time: 1:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Broadcast: 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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