How do older persons define constipation? Implications for therapeutic management.

UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Confidence Intervals; Constipation; Defecation; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Odds Ratio; Risk Factors; United States


Health Services Research | Medicine and Health Sciences


This study examined the relation between bowel-related symptoms and self-report of constipation in 10,875 subjects aged 60 years and over, who participated in the 1989 National Health Interview Survey. Subjects reporting constipation "always" or "mostly" over the past 12 months (n = 594) were compared with those who reported never having the symptom (n = 4,192). Straining (adjusted odds ratio 66.7; 95% confidence interval 31.5, 142.4) and hard bowel movements (25.6; 16.7, 38.7) were most strongly associated with self-report of constipation. These findings suggest that treatment for constipation in the older population should be directed as much or more at facilitating comfortable rectal evacuation, as increasing bowel movement frequency.

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Citation: J Gen Intern Med. 1997 Jan;12(1):63-6.

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