Etiologic factors of chronic constipation: review of the scientific evidence

Dig Dis Sci. 2007 Feb;52(2):313-6. doi: 10.1007/s10620-006-9298-7. Epub 2007 Jan 12.


Geriatric patient educational material and a general practice review suggest insufficient dietary fiber intake, inadequate fluid intake, decrease physical activity, side effects of drugs, hypothyroidism, sex hormones and colorectal cancer obstruction may play a role in the pathogenesis of constipation. A search of recent literature, however, reveals that there is a paucity of evidence-based publications that address the etiologic factors of chronic constipation. Much of current writings on the subject may be based primarily on myths handed down from one generation to the next. In the absence of well-designed studies, there do not appear to be sufficient evidence-based information to implicate the above as major etiologic factors in the development of chronic constipation. The etiological role of each of these factors in the development of chronic constipation deserves to be assessed by modern techniques and methodologies. Funding agencies including the government and industry sponsors should support the development of evidence-based data sets. The understanding of the etiology of chronic constipation is the foundation on which cost-effective management strategies are to be built.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Constipation / epidemiology
  • Constipation / etiology*
  • Constipation / therapy
  • Dehydration / complications
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fiber / deficiency
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / complications
  • Life Style
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones