Systematic review: impact of constipation on quality of life in adults and children

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 May;31(9):938-49. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04273.x. Epub 2010 Feb 20.


Background: Comparison of quality of life (QoL) across disease areas requires the use of appropriate tools. Although many studies have investigated QoL in constipation, most used disease-specific tools that are inappropriate for cross-comparisons.

Aims: To identify studies of QoL in constipation and to compare these results with other chronic conditions.

Methods: A comprehensive literature search identified studies in constipation that used a generic QoL tool. Results were statistically pooled where possible and compared with published results using the same tools in other chronic conditions.

Results: A total of 13 qualifying studies were identified, 10 in adults and three in children. Results from eight studies using the SF-36/12 tools were pooled; the remaining five were narratively reported. Mental and physical components of QoL scores were consistently impaired in both adult and child populations, with the greatest impact being seen in secondary care studies. Mental health effects predominated over physical domains. The magnitude of impact was comparable with that seen in patients with allergies, musculoskeletal conditions and inflammatory bowel disease.

Conclusions: The impact of constipation on QoL is significant and comparable with other common chronic conditions. Improving management may prove to be an effective way of improving QoL for a substantial number of patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / complications*
  • Constipation / epidemiology
  • Constipation / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life* / psychology
  • Young Adult