Research published by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme suggests that allowing users of incontinence pads to choose combinations of designs for different circumstances would be cost-effective.
The NHS, nursing homes and public spend around £94 million per year on incontinence pads. However, the research base for making informed choices between different product designs is very weak.
The study led by Dr Mandy Fader of the University of Southampton compared the cost-effectiveness of the key product design groups in three clinical trials. Trial one recruited 85 women with light urinary incontinence living in the community; trial 2a looked at 85 moderate/heavily incontinent adults living in the community; and trial 2b involved 100 moderate/heavily incontinent adults living in nursing homes. Researchers measured product performance (e.g. leakage and discreetness), acceptability and participants’ preferences, for the different designs.
The research team found that for light incontinence disposable inserts were the most effective design out of the four tested in trial one. However, some women preferred menstrual pads or washable pants, which were both cheaper. For moderate/heavily incontinent adults both trial 2a and 2b found that disposable pull-ups were the most effective and acceptable for women, and for men disposable diapers were better overall and the most cost-effective design.
“Our research showed that the performance and acceptability of designs varied between users and allowing them to choose combinations of designs for different circumstances within a budget may offer the best solution,” says Dr Fader. “The results of this trial will help provide a more solid basis for guiding selection and purchase of incontinence pads.”