An opportunity for office-based research

M. T. Stein*, W. J. Barbaresi, I. Benuck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CASE. Robert, a nearly 12-year-old boy, traveled an hour to see a new pediatrician. Robert's mom told the pediatrician that Robert had not been seen by a doctor for several years because "no one seems to be able to help him with his problem." Robert had been wetting the bed "ever since he was toilet-trained" at age 2 years. Robert wets the bed about 5 out of 7 nights. He never has daytime accidents. He did not have a history of urinary tract infection, dysuria, urgency, or increased frequency of urination. He has daily bowel movements and denied soiling or accidents. Robert's mom said he had "toilet-trained himself" at age 2 years. Both Robert's mom and maternal grandfather had nocturnal enuresis "into their teenage years." The pediatrician was surprised to learn that another physician had treated Robert with imipramine at age 5 years. The medication worked intermittently and Robert continued to take it for about a year. At age 6 years, Robert's parents saw an advertisement for a bed-wetting alarm. They purchased the alarm but found that Robert never woke up when the alarm sounded. At age 7 years, Robert saw a urologist who told him he would "outgrow the problem." A year later, the urologist prescribed desmopressin acetate (DDAVP) nasal spray, which Robert took on occasion during the next 2 years. Every time he stopped the DDAVP, he resumed wetting the bed. His parents never punished him for his accidents, but they did try restricting fluids after dinner and also woke Robert in the middle of the night and encouraged him to go to the bathroom. Neither of these strategies was successful. Robert said he was "frustrated" and wondered if "I would still be wetting the bed as a grown-up." The pediatrician explained the nature of enuresis to Robert and his mom, provided them with instructions and an order form for a bed-wetting alarm, and arranged a follow-up visit. The next day, during nursery rounds, he asked several of his colleagues about their approaches to the treatment of enuresis. A few used DDAVP, one found imipramine beneficial, and one preferred behavioral treatment with a bed-wetting alarm. The pediatrician became concerned that he had misread the literature on enuresis. He brought the question up at the next pediatric staff meeting at the local hospital. A lively discussion ensued as the physicians realized that they employed a variety of treatments for enuresis. Robert's pediatrician wondered why his colleagues were not using the alarm because the literature seemed to indicate it to be the preferred treatment for enuresis. He asked the group if they would be interested in talking about the issue further and perhaps trying to understand the reasons for their varied approaches to this problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-39
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Enuresis
  • Office research
  • Primary care research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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