Skip to content

Examining the effectiveness of parental strategies to overcome bedwetting: an observational cohort study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere016749
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number7
Early online date13 Jul 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 5 Jun 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jul 2017
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2017


Objective: To examine whether a range of common strategies used by parents to overcome bedwetting in 7½-year-old children (including lifting, restricting drinks before bedtime, regular daytime toilet trips, rewards, showing displeasure and using protection pants) are effective in reducing the risk of bedwetting at 9½ years.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: General community.
Participants: The starting sample included 1,258 children (66.7% boys and 33.2% girls) who were still bedwetting at 7½ years.
Outcome measure: Risk of bedwetting at 9½ years.
Results: Using propensity score based methods we found that two of the parental strategies used at 7½ years were associated with an increased risk of bedwetting at 9½ years, after adjusting the model for child and family variables and other parental strategies: lifting (risk difference= 0.106 [95% CI= 0.009–0.202] i.e. there is an 10.6% (0.9% to 20.2%) increase in risk of bedwetting at 9½ years among children whose parents used lifting compared with children whose parents did not use this strategy) and restricting drinks before bedtime (0.123 [0.021–0.226]). The effect of using the other parental strategies was in either direction (an increase or decrease in the risk of bedwetting at 9½ years) e.g. showing displeasure (-0.052 [-0.214 to 0.110). When we re-analysed the data using multivariable regression analysis, the results were mostly consistent with the propensity score-based methods.
Conclusion: These findings provide evidence that common strategies used to overcome bedwetting in 7½ year olds are not effective in reducing the risk of bedwetting at 9½ years. Parents should be encouraged to seek professional advice for their child’s bedwetting rather than persisting with strategies that may be ineffective.

Download statistics

No data available



  • Full-text PDF (final published version)

    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via BMJ at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Final published version, 560 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups