Correlates of regular laxative use by frail elderly persons.

UMMS Affiliation

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

Publication Date


Document Type



Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Cathartics; Cross-Sectional Studies; Drug Utilization; Female; Frail Elderly; Homes for the Aged; Humans; Logistic Models; Male; Nursing Homes; Retrospective Studies


Health Services Research | Medicine and Health Sciences


PURPOSE: To examine the demographic, clinical, and pharmacological correlates of regular laxative use in elderly persons residing in a long-term care setting. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional study using retrospective record review undertaken in an academically affiliated long-term care facility in the United States. All individuals residing in the institution for at least 1 month (n = 694) were characterized regarding use of laxatives. Regular laxative use was defined as more than 30 doses of laxatives, stool softeners, or enemas taken over the most recent 1-month period. RESULTS: Residents with regular laxative use (n = 349) were compared with those who received no laxatives (n = 227). Factors significantly associated with regular laxative use at the P < 0.05 significance level were simultaneously included in a multiple logistic regression model. Factors associated with regular laxative use were immobility, Parkinson's disease, diabetes mellitus, and use of iron supplements, calcium channel blockers, and antidepressants with moderate to strong anticholinergic properties. CONCLUSION: Regular laxative use is often associated with neurologic dysfunction that directly or indirectly affects the gut, or medications known to depress colonic motility. Identification of potentially modifiable correlates of regular laxative use in older individuals may suggest management strategies to avoid or reduce laxative, stool softener, and enema requirements, improve constipation symptoms, and enhance quality of life for the frail elderly population.


Am J Med. 1995 Nov;99(5):513-8.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal of medicine

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID