Aim: To investigate coping mechanisms, constipation symptoms and anorectal physiology in 80 constipated subjects and 18 controls.
Methods: Constipation was diagnosed by Rome II criteria. Coping ability and anxiety/depression were assessed by validated questionnaires. Transit time and balloon distension test were performed.
Results: 34.5% patients were classified as slow transit type of constipation. The total colonic transit time (56 h vs 10 h, P<0.0001) and rectal sensation including urge sensation (79 mL vs 63 mL, P = 0.019) and maximum tolerable volume (110 mL vs 95 mL, P = 0.03) differed in patients and controls. Constipated subjects had significantly higher anxiety and depression scores and lower SF-36 scores in all categories. They also demonstrated higher scores of 'monitoring' coping strategy (14+/-6 vs 9+/-3, P = 0.001), which correlated with the rectal distension sensation (P = 0.005), urge sensation (P=0.002), and maximum tolerable volume (P = 0.035). The less use of blunting strategy predicted slow transit constipation in both univariate (P = 0.01) and multivariate analysis (P = 0.03).
Conclusion: Defective or ineffective use of coping strategies may be an important etiology in functional constipation and subsequently reflected in abnormal anorectal physiology.