The health-related quality of life and economic burden of constipation

Pharmacoeconomics. 2005;23(5):461-76. doi: 10.2165/00019053-200523050-00006.


Constipation is a prevalent condition that disproportionately affects women and older adults and leads to self-medication and/or medical consultation. It occurs as a result of functional idiopathic causes or secondarily as a result of a variety of factors including dietary and exercise patterns, adverse effects of medication and disease processes. Constipation is often perceived to be a benign, easily treated condition with short-term treatment being relatively straightforward; however, chronic constipation is associated with mild complications that, left untreated, can develop into more serious bowel complaints (faecal impaction, incontinence and bowel perforations) with further implications for healthcare costs and the patient's health-related quality of life (HR-QOL). This review summarises the evidence of the HR-QOL impact and economic burden of constipation on patients. Relatively few studies have systematically explored the HR-QOL and economic impact of constipation; however, the existing evidence suggests that HR-QOL is lower in patients with constipation than in non-constipated individuals, and treatments for constipation improve HR-QOL. Additionally, constipation represents an economic burden for the patient and healthcare provider. Resource utilisation associated with the diagnosis and management of constipation is a significant cost driver, whereas constipation prevention programmes have demonstrated cost savings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cathartics / economics
  • Cathartics / therapeutic use
  • Constipation / economics*
  • Constipation / physiopathology
  • Constipation / psychology
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life / psychology*


  • Cathartics