Review of the treatment literature for encopresis, functional constipation, and stool-toileting refusal

Ann Behav Med. 2000 Summer;22(3):260-7. doi: 10.1007/BF02895121.


This review summarizes the literature on randomized, controlled, published studies involving medical, behavioral, psychological, and biofeedback treatments for encopresis/functional constipation and stool-toileting refusal in preschool-age and school-age children. Nine such studies were located in the literature involving school-age children. No randomized, controlled treatment studies involving preschool-age children have been published. This review revealed no evidence to support the routine use of psychotherapy or anal sphincter biofeedback in the treatment of pediatric fecal elimination dysfunctions, beyond those benefits derived from a comprehensive medical-behavioral intervention. Further, this review indicated that paradoxical constriction of the External Anal Sphincter does not influence the treatment outcome of either biofeedback or medical-behavioral interventions. There are remarkably few controlled treatment outcome studies in this most important clinical area. More research is needed that employs standard treatment outcome variables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biofeedback, Psychology
  • Cathartics / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / psychology
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Encopresis / psychology
  • Encopresis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Toilet Training*


  • Cathartics