To study the distribution of subtypes and symptoms of fecal incontinence in the general Dutch population.
We performed a cross-sectional study in a representative sample of the general Dutch population. All respondents (N = 1259) completed the Groningen Defecation and Fecal Continence questionnaire. We assigned the respondents to a so-called healthy subgroup (n = 1008) and a comorbidity subgroup (n = 251). The latter subgroup comprised the respondents who reportedly suffered from chronic diseases and who had undergone surgery known to influence fecal continence. We defined fecal incontinence according to the Rome IV criteria.
The combination of urge fecal incontinence and soiling was the most frequent form of fecal incontinence in the total study group, the "healthy" subgroup, and the comorbidity subgroup (49.0, 47.3, and 51.5%). Passive fecal incontinence was the least frequent form of fecal incontinence in all three groups (4.0, 5.4, and 2.2%). The prevalence and severity of fecal incontinence was significantly higher in the comorbidity subgroup than in the "healthy" subgroup. Only in the comorbidity subgroup did the fecally incontinent respondents feel urge sensation significantly less often before defecating than their fecally continent counterparts (16.5 versus 48.8%, P <0.001).
Urge fecal incontinence combined with soiling is commonest in the general Dutch population. Chronic diseases and bowel and pelvic surgery both increase and aggravate fecal incontinence.