Incontinence in Zambia: Understanding the coping strategies of sufferers and carers

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master of Science
Title Incontinence in Zambia: Understanding the coping strategies of sufferers and carers
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Incontinence is a prevalent worldwide healthcare challenge which significantly
impacts upon the quality of life of both sufferers and carers. Simple behavioural
changes and technologies can bring dramatic improvements for those who
suffer from the condition, but for them to be successful first requires an
understanding of local challenges. There is very little information on the
management of incontinence in low income settings, and this study aims to
reduce that knowledge gap by providing an understanding of the coping
strategies used by sufferers and carers in Zambia.
Semi-structured interviews with a range of adult stakeholders were held in the
Central Province and Lusaka Districts of Zambia to obtain in-depth, qualitative
information. As it was not possible to determine a population of current and
historic incontinence sufferers convenience sampling was used. Daily field
notes, informed by a number of informal conversations held with a variety of
informants, were also analysed and used to inform the findings.
The study found that the term ‘incontinence’ was not commonly understood
within the research population, and that the condition is rarely reported to
medical professionals. The most likely explanation for a lack of reported cases
is a reluctance to disclose due to the stigma associated with the condition, with
attitudes to incontinence largely influenced by perceptions about causation. The
incontinence care process in Zambia is subsequently limited, and both coping
strategies and treatment received are determined by affordability and
Incontinence care is likely to remain limited until the stigma associated with the
condition is addressed. Raising awareness is key, as successfully dispelling
myths and misconceptions would encourage the development of treatment
pathways for sufferers and support systems for carers, and stimulate the
innovation needed to improve the daily management of the condition.

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