Why do we still call them "adult diapers"?
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Why do we still call them "adult diapers"?

Healthwick closely aligns itself with many clinical and research-based groups, including the Canadian Nurse Continence Advisors, Urology Nurses of Canada and Canadian Continence Foundation. 

And one thing that any reputable healthcare professional will tell you - the term "adult diapers" is taboo. It's considered to be at best undignified and at worst downright offensive to people who are using them to manage incontinence. The preferred terms are "incontinence briefs" or "adult briefs"

So why do we still use "adult diapers" at Healthwick.ca? Well, unfortunately it's because all of us as Canadians still use that phrase 100x more than the preferred clinical terms. And because Healthwick.ca is an online retailer, we have to adopt the most common phrases so that people can find our website if they need help with incontinence products.

Check out this graph from Google Trends, showing search volume for "adult diapers" vs "incontinence briefs" vs "adult briefs" in Canada from 2013 to present. The two preferred clinical terms hardly even register, comparatively speaking.

Why do we still call them adult diapers - Healthwick


For better or for worse, and except for the small percentage of the population who work in hospitals, long-term care facilities or private nursing, "adult diapers" is to "incontinence briefs" the way "Q-tips" is to "cotton swabs" or "Kleenex" is to "facial tissues".

I'll tell you a little secret - Healthwick used the phrase "adult briefs" exclusively on our website up until early 2013, for the same reasons that healthcare professionals do - we felt "adult diapers" could be construed as disrespectful to our customers. 

One of the reasons we changed was that we had several phone conversations that went something like this:

Customer: "I ordered these adult briefs but you sent me adult diapers!

Healthwick Rep: "But, sir/ma'am, I'm sorry.... that's what adult diapers are....?"

Customer: "No, briefs are like tight underwear. Everyone knows that."

For many of our customer, managing incontinence is difficult and embarrassing enough; and here we were making it worse for them by using the industry-preferred-but-inherently-confusing term.

"Adult diapers" isn't graceful and it might be distasteful to some, but it does have the benefit of being unambiguous and to this day, I think it's the reason that the vast majority of Canadians still use it when looking for product (and hence why we still use it here at Healthwick.ca). 

We're open to other suggestions, though! Drop us a line at help@healthwick.ca


Aug 31, 2022

I prefer to call a spade a spade. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Calling an adult diaper anything else other than what it is perpetuates stigma and the idea that incontinence is something to be ashamed of, when it is a medical condition that one has no control over.

Jul 22, 2022

for me I heard “Adult Briefs” for a long time because of the stigma associated with Diapers but I have always been a bedwetter and Never had any idea there was a product designed to deal with this now after years of waking up soaked from head to toe and smelling like a gas station toilet I finally find out “Adult Briefs” are actually diapers so because of the stigma that is finally being dropped I could have woke up in a wet diaper instead soaked in my bed for several years and been much happier

Oct 13, 2021
Orion Cochrane

I’m good with then being called adult diapers because diapers are here to help us & they shouldn’t be stigmatized by society ❤️❤️❤️ Diapers help us physically & mentally & that is super awesome ❤️❤️❤️

Sep 30, 2021
Phyllis Carson

Babies diapers are called Huggies, or pampers. For adults having adult diapers is “freedom” and “Assurance”for being able to live a full life.

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