Background: Constipation is one of the most common problems in childhood. In idiopathic constipation it is not possible to identify primary cause in every case. Child behavioral problems and disturbances in parent-child relationships have been cited as causes of constipation. Constipation is a source of anxiety to the child and to the family. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate psychological characteristics of constipated children and their parents.
Methods: Thirty-two otherwise healthy children with idiopathic constipation over 4 years old were prospectively evaluated between January 2002 and June 2003. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and Symptom Checklist-90 revised (SCL-90-R) were used to assess the psychological profiles of the children and the parents, respectively. Thirty children with inguinal hernia who had no constipation or other problems, and their parents were asked to complete the checklists as controls. The scores of the constipation group were compared statistically with those of the control group.
Results: In the constipation group there were 19 boys and 13 girls with a mean age of 7.3 years (4-14 years). All the patients responded to medical treatment. Constipated children and their parents were not found to have more behavior problems than the control group (P > 0.05).
Conclusions: Children with idiopathic constipation and their parents do not show significant behavioral and emotional problems. Their psychological profiles are not different from the general population.