Study explores treatment for urinary incontinence among prostate cancer surgery patients

October 18, 2004

NEWARK, N.J. - A College of Nursing faculty member, Joanne Patterson Robinson, has been awarded a three-year $327,000 grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health to study pelvic floor muscle exercise for men with urinary incontinence after prostate cancer surgery.

The study will focus on determining the best method to teach men to use their pelvic floor muscles to control their bladder, according to Robinson, assistant professor at the College of Nursing at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, who will conduct the study.

"While incontinence is not life threatening, it is a life altering problem. Typically, men have no experience with pads or other methods of dealing with urine leakage," said Robinson, a Marlton resident. "They have been through the trauma of prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. With the loss of the prostate gland many men also face bladder control problems for a period of time."

Seventy-two men, 60 years old and older with no previous history of urinary incontinence, will be recruited early after surgery and divided into three groups. The first group will receive written instructions on how to exercise pelvic floor muscles.

The second group will receive a one-hour training session that includes a demonstration of the exercise, three weekly follow-up calls to reinforce their training, and a recommended exercise schedule.

The third group, in addition to the follow-up calls and recommended pelvic muscle exercise schedule, will also receive four weekly hour-long training sessions using biofeedback as a visual aid to teach and assess pelvic muscle exercise performance.

"The biofeedback machine is similar to an electrocardiogram in that it picks up electrical activity of the muscle and displays it on a monitor or computer screen," said Robinson. "The sensors are placed on the surface of the skin over pelvic floor muscles and the patients will see how well they are contracting and relaxing the muscle."

To examine the differences in the effectiveness of the three training approaches, the patients will be asked to complete an interview, a pelvic muscle strength test, a three-day bladder record and a 24-hour pad test four times during the study.

From its headquarters at Rutgers-Newark, Rutgers College of Nursing offers a broad range of academic programs on all three Rutgers campuses. The college offers a master's program with unique practitioner clinical specialties, and the only doctoral (Ph.D) nursing degree in New Jersey.
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Rutgers University

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