The impact of the absorbent products distribution system on family caregivers of older people with incontinence in Italy: Perception of the support received

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Background: Urinary incontinence is a chronic, age-related disorder, likely to increase in the future due to global population ageing. In Italy, as in most countries, older people with incontinence are often cared for by family caregivers, whose burden might be worsened by the perception of receiving an inadequate support, due to the lack of customized services. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the absorbent products distribution method on family caregivers' perception of the support received. Methods: The study compared the distribution of pads to homes and in pharmacy via a survey reaching 101 family caregivers of older people with incontinence living in two geographical areas of the Marche Region (Central Italy) with different distribution systems. The association between "Quality of perceived support" (the outcome variable) and two types of absorbent products delivery methods (i.e. pharmacy and home distribution) was analysed by means of a general linear model. Results: Findings show that family caregivers receiving pads at home (HODs) perceived a higher support than those gaining them at the pharmacy (PHADs) (respectively 68.1% vs 35%). The association between perceived support level and distribution system remained even after correction for confounding factors. 70.2% of PHADs reported "Poor well-being", versus only 53.7% of HODs. The latter are more satisfied with the type of products distribution and thus less inclined to experiment different systems for the supply of products for the urinary continence (e.g. by voucher). The results are virtually reversed among PHADs and the difference is statistically significant (p < 0.001). Conclusions: When family caregivers feel supported by a more customized service delivery system, their perception of the care-related burden is mitigated. Thus, it is important to consider the needs of both family caregivers and cared for older people, and not only of the latter for designing a more suitable distribution of absorbent products. The best solution could be leaving end-users the freedom to choose how they want to get products (e.g. voucher or personal budget). This requires a reorganization of the current pads delivery systems adopted by the Marche and by other Italian Regional Health Systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number239
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 29 2019


  • Family caregivers
  • Older people with incontinence
  • Pads distribution
  • Regional health care system
  • Services
  • Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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