Constipation in older patients: effects on quality of life

Br J Nurs. 2006;15(4):188-92. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2006.15.4.20542.


Constipation, often related to diet, physical immobility, concurrent illness or multiple medication use, is common in older people. Despite potential for serious complications, constipation may often be overlooked. Management of constipation is a critical part of the care of older patients with chronic conditions. Risk assessment and appropriate nursing interventions and/or medication should mean that constipation can be minimized, preventing additional medication burden and reducing the risk of non-adherence. The relationship between quality of life and constipation has been assessed in numerous studies, showing that patients with constipation generally have an impaired quality of life compared with the general population, although studies in older patients are limited. In long-term survivors of colorectal or anal carcinoma, constipation is one of the factors that has the most negative impact on quality of life. Strategies for prevention and minimization of constipation have the potential to substantially improve quality of life for older people.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged / psychology*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Antacids / adverse effects
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antihypertensive Agents / adverse effects
  • Causality
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Constipation / epidemiology
  • Constipation / etiology*
  • Constipation / prevention & control
  • Constipation / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Geriatric Nursing
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Iron Compounds / adverse effects
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Antacids
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Iron Compounds