Breaking the stigma of bladder health issues

Nov 22, 2016
Breaking the stigma of bladder health issues

Bladder health issues affect millions of people worldwide and include a range of urologic conditions from incontinence to urinary tract infections and bladder cancer.1 Not only do these impact an individual’s health and quality of life, but the associated cost of bladder health issues is huge too, with bladder diseases and conditions estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $70 billion a year.2

Now, thanks to the joint efforts of the Urology Care Foundation (UCF), American Urological Association (AUA) and the Bladder Health Alliance (BHA), November marks the launch of Bladder Health Awareness Month to raise awareness of the facts behind common bladder problems and encourage the public to seek earlier diagnosis.

“We wanted to start this campaign to remove the stigma and promote dialogue about these issues – issues that affect so many people,” said Christine Frey, Corporate Communications Manager at American Urological Association. “A lot of people are embarrassed to talk about bladder health issues so we’ve decided to help make that process easier for them.”

Alongside the use of a universal social media campaign using the #NovBHealth hashtag, the 30-plus participating organizations will also host condition-specific activities for each week of the month – from Twitter chats to live webinars – all designed to stimulate conversation about bladder health issues. The first week will focus on incontinence, overactive bladder (OAB) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and will utilize designated hashtags for each respective condition. Week two will focus on nocturia and bedwetting; week three on bladder cancer; week four on urinary tract infections; and week five on neurogenic bladder and interstitial cystitis.

“The fact that all participating organizations are using these collective hashtags will ensure we have one consistent voice, giving us a better chance of the topic trending and exposing more people to the subject,” said Jessica Bateman, Patient and Research Advocacy Manager, American Urological Association.

Outside of social media, the participating organizations are raising awareness in a variety of different ways. The UCF, for example, has created its own resource base for both patients and healthcare professionals, providing a blog, recipes and educational materials to the former and housing research and educational resources for the latter.

“The idea behind our two-pronged web portals was to create a one-stop resource for both patients and healthcare professionals alike,” explained Frey. “We wanted to bring together all of the important information patients and caregivers will look for regarding bladder health issues through one web page, while providing a comprehensive resource base for healthcare professionals through the other.”

The UCF is not stopping there. It is also conducting a radio and television tour to spread the word about Bladder Health Awareness Month, recruiting the likes of world-renowned urology expert Dr. Kathleen Kobashi.

With its multiple means of spurring the conversation around bladder health issues, it is clear that the UCF, AUA and BHA are planning a big inaugural Bladder Health Awareness Month – one that Frey reiterated the importance of: “We’re so excited this is happening. For years, many organizations in our industry have struggled to create dialogue around this subject and now they finally have a platform to do so. Now we can really start to break the stigma surrounding bladder health issues and ensure that patients with these conditions can live a better quality of life.”


  1. Lukacz ES, Sampselle C, Gray M, Macdiarmid S, Rosenberg M, Ellsworth P, Palmer MH. A healthy bladder: a consensus statement. Int J Clin Pract. 2011;65(10):1026-36.
  2. American Urological Association (November 1, 2016) November is Bladder Health Awareness Month Last accessed November 2016


Christine Frey is the corporate communications manager for both the American Urological Association (AUA) and the Urology Care Foundation (UCF). In this role, she has global responsibility for corporate communications, brand PR, corporate digital media, crisis communications, media relations and the foundation’s award-winning publication, UrologyHealthextra®.  Additionally, she serves as one of the senior communications advisers to the executive team, including the board of directors. She joined the AUA and UCF in 2013 after more than 20 years serving in various senior communications consulting roles for federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where she conceptualized, developed and implemented disaster response and awareness campaigns, as well as communications and promotional strategies that helped increase community impact and program results.

Jessica Bateman is the patient and research advocacy manager for the American Urological Association (AUA). In this role, she has responsibility for ensuring the patient voice is incorporated into legislative initiatives and policy agenda.  Jessica provides outreach and resources to patient, physician, and veteran organizations that complement the AUA’s advocacy efforts. Additionally, she leads and participates in patient-focused coalitions that increase awareness about health disparities and enhance patient access to care. She joined the AUA after more than 10 years serving in the non-profit sector as President and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America –DC/MD/VA Chapter and directing the public policy team at the Immune Deficiency Foundation.  She was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Maryland Arthritis Council from 2011-2015 and has authored several print publications. Jessica has a Master’s degree in Community Health education from Towson University and is a certified patient navigator.

Breaking the stigma of bladder health issues

Astellas Patient Advocacy is a function within Corporate Affairs at Astellas that focuses on creating, building and maintaining third-party relationships. We serve as a conduit between Astellas and external stakeholders to help improve patient outcomes, improve access issues and address patients’ unmet needs head on.

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