A buying guide for body-worn absorbent products

Choosing suitable body-worn absorbent products is not an easy endeavour for stroke carers because the information available on the websites of different brands is overwhelming. Most of the time, it becomes a trial and error business and you are more likely to spend unnecessarily.

Although adult body-worn absorbent product use has become widespread around the world, surprisingly, according to the experts, very little research exists. This became evident when an expert group carried out an extensive review of the published research in 2018. You can read this through this link. This is a very comprehensive report that also includes expert consensus statements. More recently, based on the above report, in March 2020, The same group – The WOCN (Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society) – published a very useful decision support algorithm for body-worn absorbent products.

A need for a simpler guide

Based on our literature review and the wide range of information available specific to different brands, we developed a simpler buying guide for body-worn absorbent products. We believe this will assist in your consultation with the healthcare professional while making your decision.

A simple buying guide to choosing a body-worn absorbent product (copyright@strokecarer.com)

In addition to the factors considered in the above guide, experts suggest considering the following also in your decision-making process. These include,

  • Gender
  • bed-ridden, wheelchair-bound or walking
  • Presence of skin damage, changes
  • Need for assistance
  • The level of cognitive ability
  • Personal preference
  • Cost

The above buying guide is the first one. You can also contribute to enriching the above guide by adding your tips through your comments to this post. Your input will certainly help improve not only this guide but the other guides also, which we hope to introduce later.

A brief explanation of the buying guide steps

Step 1: Measure the urine leakage day and night separately

The guestimate is always inaccurate and difficult. The simplest but most accurate method is to measure the daytime and nighttime separately. Another post describes the method.

Step 2: Choose the product depending on the leakage amount

If the leak for the duration you measured is less than 100ml, choose a product that is designed for a light degree of urinary incontinence. If the leak is more than 100ml, choose either a pull-up or a diaper with tabs or both. A description of the product range appears in another post.

Step 3: Measure the waist size

The product manufacturers recommend obtaining the measurement at the belly button level. The waist sizes range from 17” to 80”. You need to consult the websites of different manufacturers because there are no uniform standards at the moment. It is confusing.

Step 4: Check the maximum absorption of the capacity of the product and the price range you can afford

The maximum absorption capacity also varies among different manufacturers from 600ml to 1300ml.

Step 5: Check the price range

The price also varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some do not mention the exact prize on their websites. You need to check the prize from your vender.

For your easy reference, this post includes the following summary table.

Product TypeLeaked amountWaist size rangeMaximum absorption capacityProduct size Prize range
Pull up100-600ml17-28”600ml X-small, small $0.58 – 1.08
Pull up600-1000ml20-80”1000mlmedium, large, XL, 2XL$0.58 – 1.08
diaper with tabs 300-1300ml18-64”1300ml X-small, small, large, X-large$0.61 -1.68

Step 6: Buy one pack first and try

It is always advisable to buy one pack and try because personal preferences also matter.

Additional resources

Further reading

Author: Ed Jerard

Research analyst and health promoter in Canada

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