Purpose: Although fecal incontinence is a topic of considerable importance, there are no validated self-report measures of fecal incontinence available. The aim of this study was to develop a questionnaire to measure fecal incontinence and its risk factors in the community.
Method: The reliability and concurrent validity of the fecal incontinence questionnaire were measured by test-retest procedures in a population of clinic patients. The questionnaire was created for a sixth-grade reading level, with large print. Ninety-four adult patients were surveyed. Thirty-four patients repeated the questionnaire through the mail. Forty-one patients were independently retested over the telephone by a physician to assess concurrent validity. Nine patients refused retest, and ten patients did not respond to a second contact.
Results: The fecal incontinence questionnaire was well understood and well accepted. Reliability (overall median kappa, 0.68; interquartile range, 0.03-1) and validity (overall median kappa, 0.59; interquartile range, 0.27-1) were acceptable for the mailed retest and the telephone retest, respectively. The presence of fecal incontinence as measured by questionnaire was greatly increased when compared with physician history in clinical records; only 3 percent of patients reported no fecal incontinence on the questionnaire when the clinic chart had documented this problem.
Conclusion: Our initial results indicated that this new self-report questionnaire is a useful tool for assessing the presence of fecal incontinence in the population and has greater sensitivity compared with a standard physician interview. Specific attention should be given to identifying fecal incontinence and associated symptoms during history taking.