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AIM: To understand the experience of urinary tract infection (UTI) by synthesizing primary qualitative research findings and developing a conceptual model that illustrates this experience. METHOD: A systematic search of Medline, PsychInfo, Embase, and CINAHL from inception to August 2020 to find qualitative research exploring the experience of UTI. Qualitative evidence synthesis in the form of meta-ethnography was undertaken. Findings are reported in keeping with eMERGe guidance. RESULTS: We included 16 qualitative studies in the synthesis of evidence, providing data from over 1038 participants aged 13-97 years. We developed nine themes: the impact of UTI on my whole body; impact on quality of life, activities, and the associated psychological toll; I know my body and my experience has taught me when I need to seek care; worry and the transition to medicalization; antibiotics are a valuable treatment approach; antibiotics are a last resort; being heard, seen, and cared for with dignity; self-judgment; and the end of the road, a need for information and cure. These themes supported a conceptual model to illustrate the patient experience of UTI. CONCLUSIONS: The conceptual model communicates the wide and varied symptoms of patients' UTI experiences and how they process this and make care decision based on past health experiences. For some, there appears to be a sense of hopelessness and frustration. This model may be used to highlight the need for improvements in diagnostic and treatment pathways. Future research to further understand the nuances of acute, recurrent, and persistent UTI is needed.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurourol Urodyn

Publication Date



meta-ethnography, patient experience, qualitative evidence synthesis, qualitative research, urinary tract infection, urogynaecology