Background: As many as 25% of hospitalized patients will have an indwelling urinary catheter at some point during admission, often without clear justification. A better understanding of patients' knowledge and opinions regarding use of indwelling urinary catheters may be helpful for design of interventions to reduce overuse of these devices.
Objective: To assess patients' knowledge and opinions regarding indwelling urinary catheter use.
Methods: We interviewed randomly-selected patients with indwelling urinary catheters from the medical and surgical floors of a tertiary care hospital. The patients were surveyed to assess knowledge of the relationship between indwelling urinary catheters and urinary tract infection (UTI) and of the indications for their catheterization, and to assess opinions on comfort and use of catheters.
Results: Of 58 patients surveyed, 43 (74%) were aware of the indication for their urinary catheter. Fifty-two percent of patients knew that indwelling urinary catheters cause UTI. However, only 7% felt that urinary catheters were overused in hospitals and 63% stated they would prefer placement of an indwelling urinary catheter rather than use of a bedside commode, bedpan, or diaper if they were not able to get out of bed. Forty-six percent of women and 32% of men felt that urinary catheters caused a significant amount of discomfort.
Conclusions: Only about half of patients are aware that indwelling urinary catheters cause UTIs, and less than 10% believe that catheters are overused in hospitals. A majority of patients stated that they would prefer placement of a urinary catheter to other alternatives if bedridden. These findings suggest that there is a need for education of patients about the risks associated with indwelling urinary catheters.