Can we reduce urinary tract infections in people who self-catheterise? - Forward Ability Support

Can we reduce urinary tract infections in people who self-catheterise?

By Dr Peta Tehan, Dr Kate Browne and Professor Brett Mitchell

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) may be considered trivial by some, but they present a significant burden to both the individual and the health system. A recent research study highlighted that UTIs affect 150 million people globally each year, resulting in over 6 billion dollars in direct health care costs.1 People who suffer from recurrent UTIs have decreased quality of life, increased visits to the GP, and more time off work as a result.2 Prophylactic strategies have the potential to help patients at risk of recurrent UTIs. Antibiotics are commonly used for this purpose, however this is not always ideal with rising rates of antibiotic resistance. We need to look at alternative solutions to help prevent UTIs, particularly in vulnerable populations.

Recently, Australian researchers demonstrated that the use of an antiseptic prior to insertion of a catheter in hospital, resulted in 95% decrease in catheter-associated UTI.3 This significant finding has led researchers to consider other populations outside of the hospital who use catheters and are at risk of UTI. It is known that individuals who need to intermittently self-catheterise are at higher risk of UTI, so researchers have turned their attention to this population.

Researchers from Avondale University are seeking to determine if using a simple wipe containing an antiseptic (chlorhexidine) prior to self-catheterisation can be effective in reducing UTIs in people in the community. The study will run for 12 months and is due to start in mid-2024. The study is currently recruiting adult participants who undertake intermittent catheterisation daily.

If you are interested in participating in this trial, please contact Dr Kate Browne for more information at or have a look at our study website


  1. Zeng, Z., Zhan, J., Zhang, K., Chen, H. and Cheng, S., 2022. Global, regional, and national burden of urinary tract infections from 1990 to 2019: an analysis of the global burden of disease study 2019. World Journal of Urology, 40(3), pp.755-763.
  2. Medina, M. and Castillo-Pino, E., 2019. An introduction to the epidemiology and burden of urinary tract infections. Therapeutic advances in urology, 11, p.1756287219832172.
  3. Fasugba, O., Cheng, A.C., Gregory, V., Graves, N., Koerner, J., Collignon, P., Gardner, A. and Mitchell, B.G., 2019. Chlorhexidine for meatal cleaning in reducing catheter-associated urinary tract infections: a multicentre stepped-wedge randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 19(6), pp.611-619.