Claire swapped a ten-year career in corporate strategy analysis with studying for an MSc in Water and Sanitation for Development at Cranfield University (UK). For her MSc dissertation ‘Incontinence in Zambia: Initial coping strategies of sufferers and carers’, Claire spent time in Zambia talking to adults that experience the condition, or who care for those that do. Her PhD topic aims to further add to the understanding of incontinence in low-resource settings.
Claire also occassionally blogs:
Urinary incontinence (UI) – the involuntary leakage of urine – is a global healthcare challenge that significantly impacts the quality of life of both those that experience it and their carers. In children aged five to 11 the prevalence of daytime UI is estimated to be 2.0-9.0%, and of night-time UI (bedwetting) 5.0-20.0% (Morison, Staines and Gordon, 2004; Buckley and Lapitan, 2010; Abrams et al., 2017). Although the causal relationship between psychological problems and daytime UI is unclear, exposure to stress – for example, separation from parents – and refugee status have been found to increase the risk of bedwetting (Järvelin et al.1990; Jurkovic et al. 2019). Prevalence rates in an emergency context may therefore be higher and there may also be incidences of social urinary incontinence (SUI, when a child has full control of their bladder, but urinates on themselves because there isn’t a suitable place to use (Ryan, 2018).
The physical health of children with UI or SUI can suffer due to skin rashes and urinary tract infections, and the social and emotional effect of the condition on daily life can also be significant for both them and their carers (Butler and Heron, 2007; Joinson et al., 2007; Mathew, 2010). In higher-income countries with well-developed healthcare systems, experience shows that simple behavioural changes, technologies and facilities can bring dramatic improvements to the quality of life of those who endure the condition, yet such resources can be lacking in emergency contexts.
Claire’s PhD seeks to understand how UI and SUI in children aged five to 11 are best managed during an emergency. For the first phase of her PhD, Claire is collaborting with Eclipse Experience (a human-centred research and design consultancy), Save the Children UK and Oxfam (both non-profit humanitarian organisations) to determine the prevalence of UI and SUI in an Ethiopian vilage whose inhabitants are internally displaced people. This will be the first known study to determine the prevalence of UI in children aged five to 12 in an emergency setting and will be a significant advancement in understanding how prevalence rates are impacted in an emergency.
A better understanding of the occurrence of UI in children in humanitarian settings will contribute to multilateral and non-governmental organisations understanding better how they can best support children with the condition and their carers. This is needed if the global community is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those relating to universal sanitation (Goal 6) and well-being (Goal 3).
Claire is also a co-facilitator of an informal email group on incontinence in humanitarian and development settings developing tools and collating resources to create a supportive environment for people to manage their incontinence hygienically, safely, in privacy and with dignity.
- MSc Water and Sanitation for Development
- MSc Theory and History of International Relations
- BSc History and International Relations
- Chartered Accountant