The Severity of Fecal Problems Is Negatively Associated with Quality of Life in a Dutch Population Without Bowel Function Comorbidities

Maaike B.C. Ten Hoor, Monika Trzpis, Paul M.A. Broens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Constipation and fecal incontinence negatively influence quality of life. The association between the severity of fecal problems and quality of life has not been investigated in the general population without bowel function comorbidities. 

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between the severity of constipation and fecal incontinence and quality of life in patients without comorbidities influencing bowel function. 

DESIGN: A population-based, cross-sectional study. 

SETTINGS: The study involved 3668 Dutch study participants. 

PATIENTS: A survey company conducted a population-wide study of the general Dutch population. Altogether, 5000 Dutch citizens completed the Groningen Defecation and Fecal Continence and Short Form-36 questionnaires. The data on 3668 respondents without comorbidities that could influence bowel function were included for analysis (study group). 

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The severity of constipation (Agachan score) and fecal incontinence (Wexner score) in relation to the quality-of-life scores. 

RESULTS: In the study group (n = 3668), 487 had constipation (13.3%), 116 had fecal incontinence (3.2%), and 64 had 2 coexisting fecal problems (1.7%). In the multivariable analysis, all quality-of-life domains were negatively associated with the severity of constipation and fecal incontinence. The associations between the severity of constipation and quality of life were stronger (highest: ß = -2.413; 95% CI, -2.681 to -2.145; p < 0.001) than those of fecal incontinence (highest: ß = -1.280; 95% CI, -1.681 to -.880; p < 0.001). We also found that a longer duration of bowel complaints coincided with higher severity scores, especially for constipation. Respondents mostly rated their defecation health as positive, regardless of the severity of their fecal problems. 

LIMITATIONS: Cross-sectional design. 

CONCLUSIONS: The severity of constipation and fecal incontinence is significantly associated with reduced quality of life, with the severity of constipation having stronger associations than fecal incontinence. Given respondents' unawareness of their fecal problems and the progressive character, timely intervention is advocated. See Video Abstract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-456
Number of pages9
JournalDiseases of the Colon and Rectum
Volume67
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2024

Keywords

  • Constipation
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Fecal problems
  • Quality of life

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