The influence of demographic characteristics on constipation symptoms: a detailed overview

Sanne J. Verkuijl*, Rob J. Meinds, Monika Trzpis, Paul M. A. Broens

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)
    71 Downloads (Pure)


    Background Diagnosing constipation remains difficult and its treatment continues to be ineffective. The reason may be that the symptom patterns of constipation differ in different demographic groups. We aimed to determine the pattern of constipation symptoms in different demographic groups and to define the symptoms that best indicate constipation. Methods In this cross-sectional study the Groningen Defecation and Fecal Continence questionnaire was completed by a representative sample of the adult Dutch population (N = 892). We diagnosed constipation according to the Rome IV criteria for constipation. Results The Rome criteria were fulfilled by 15.6% of the study group and we found the highest prevalence of constipation in women and young adults (19.7 and 23.5%, respectively). Symptom patterns differed significantly between constipated respondents of various ages, while we did not observe sex-based differences. Finally, we found a range of constipation symptoms, not included in the Rome IV criteria, that showed marked differences in prevalence between constipated and non-constipated individuals, especially failure to defecate ( increment = 41.2%). Conclusions Primarily, we found that certain symptoms of constipation are age-dependent. Moreover, we emphasize that symptoms of constipation not included in the Rome IV criteria, such as daily failure to defecate and an average duration of straining of more than five minutes, are also reliable indicators of constipation. Therefore, we encourage clinicians to adopt a more comprehensive approach to diagnosing constipation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number168
    Number of pages9
    JournalBmc gastroenterology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 3-Jun-2020


    • Constipation
    • Digestive symptoms
    • Demographic factors
    • Diagnostic procedure
    • AGE


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