Previous studies of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) have focused on men, with few studies including minority populations. The Boston Area Community Health (BACH) Survey is designed to study the prevalence and impact of LUTS among both men and women in a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse population.
The BACH Survey used a stratified 2-stage cluster design to randomly sample 5506 adults aged 30 to 79 from the city of Boston, Mass (2301 men, 3205 women, 1770 blacks, 1877 Hispanics, and 1859 whites). Data were obtained using interviewer and self-administered questionnaires. The presence of LUTS was defined as an American Urological Association symptom index score of 8 or above. Quality of life was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study 12-Item Short Form Survey (SF-12), and a measure of bother was based on the interference of urinary symptoms with various activities. Analyses were weighted to the Boston population using SUDAAN version 9.0 statistical software.
The overall prevalence of LUTS was 18.7% and increased with age (10.5% at age 30-39 years to 25.5% at age 70-79 years) but did not differ by sex or race/ethnicity. Quality of life was significantly reduced among those with LUTS, as measured by the bother of symptoms and the SF-12 component scores. Prevalence of prescription medication use for urinary symptoms was low even among participants with LUTS, with more than 90% of participants reporting no medication use.
In this population-based, racially and ethnically diverse random sample, LUTS were common among both men and women and increased substantially with age. Lower urinary tract symptoms had a negative impact on quality of life across age, sex, and race/ethnic groups.