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Go Against The Flow campaign material. Photo: VCRC

Teens struggle with bladder leakage too: awareness campaign

“Urinary incontinence is not something teen girls talk about because no one really tells them it’s something they should be thinking about.”

Because of this silence, Swinburne University of Technology Associate Professor Nicole Wragg says, many young girls are likely to deal with the problem alone, feeling embarrassed, stressed and ashamed.

Wragg, who is also executive officer of the Victorian Continence Resource Centre (VCRC), and fellow VCRC researchers conducted a literature review that confirmed the lack of age-appropriate and engaging material available to raise awareness of bladder leakage in teenage girls.

This is at odds with prevalence in the cohort, with one in eight teenage girls experiencing bladder leakage.

Wragg said the revelation was the catalyst behind the Go Against The Flow campaign, which aims to spread awareness about bladder leakage in teenage girls aged 15–19 years.

“It is imperative to reach this audience before the health issue arises,” Wragg said.

Over the course of several years, a collaborative team comprising VCRC and Swinburne staff led by chief investigator, Associate Professor Carolyn Barnes, held a series of co-design workshops with teen girls to find the best ways to connect with them.

“The girls gave us critical feedback about what mattered to them,” Barnes said. “The workshop findings were then translated into design concepts by an all-female team of Swinburne communication design students.”

The team landed on a website that features blogs, information and a forum. The team hoped it would help make teenage girls who may be experiencing bladder leakage feel supported, informed and respected.

The project was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Swinburne and VCRC.

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