Improving the experience of young men with continence problems

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This article has been double-blind peer reviewedIn this article…• The effect of continence problems on young people• The experience of a young man with continence problems• How staff can improve the care of young men with continence problemsAuthorAnn Dix is freelance health writer.About 900,000 children and young people are affected by bladder and bowel problems in the UK but, because of the stigma attached, many hide the issue and do not access the help they need. Young men are particularly vulnerable as there is little recognition of male continence problems. A survey of young people showed that almost half would feel “uncomfortable” talking about their continence problems to relatives and friends, and almost two-thirds would be embarrassed to see a doctor. This is compounded by a lack of early intervention, gaps in specialist children's bladder and bowel services, and lack of support in the transition from child to adult services. Healthcare staff often have little training in continence issues and poor awareness of its impact on young people. This article reports the experience of one young man with continence problems, while two continence specialists - a nurse and an occupational therapist - explain how staff can improve the experience of care for young people with incontinence.CitationDix A (2018) Improving the experience of young men with continence problems. Nursing Times; 114: 9, 36-38.Key pointsOne in 10 young people and children in the UK experience bladder and bowel problems but the issue is often hidden, particularly in young adults and teenagersYoung men are particularly vulnerable because of a lack of recognition of male continence problemsDue to the stigma associated with continence issues, many young men are not accessing the help availableMost nurses have little training or experience in continence issues, which can cause them to make unhelpful assumptionsStaff need to help young men feel comfortable disclosing such information, and facilitate shared decision-making between patient and clinician

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