Other Funded Projects

Breaking the Silence: Women's Experiences of Urinary Incontinence

  • Principal Investigator

    Dr Lena Jaspersen, University Academic Fellow, University of Leeds

  • Co-Investigators

    Dr Dani Barrington, Lecturer in Water Sanitation and Hygiene, University of Leeds

    Dr. Lata Narayanaswamy, Lecturer in International Development, University of Leeds


An inter-disciplinary team  of three early career researchers at the University of Leeds are working together to tackle incontinence as a social as well as bio-medical issue. Dr Lena Jaspersen has expertise in issues around innovation in resource-poor contexts,  Dr Dani Barrington focusses on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in low resource contexts and Dr Lata Narayanaswamy is a social scientist specialising in gender and development.

Urinary incontinence disproportionally affects women. It is estimated that about one in three women experience involuntary loss of urine. To date little is known about the experiences, needs and coping strategies of those affected.

As the experience of lacking voluntary control over urination can evoke feelings of embarrassment and shame, many women affected by incontinence do not seek medical assistance, and if they do, diagnosis can be difficult. Healthcare technologies that can improve quality of life often are out of reach due to resource constraints, gendered sociocultural norms and a lack of institutional infrastructure.

The team are developing an inter-disciplinary research agenda aiming at collaborative innovation for addressing urinary incontinence in women. To better understand the experiences of the women affected as well as the broader innovation ecosystem of researchers, healthcare providers, family members and carers, charities, and firms developing incontinence products, they ran a series of workshops in October 2018 which were sponsored by IMPRESS.