Families' perspectives on the effect of constipation and fecal incontinence on quality of life

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 Dec;51(6):747-52. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181de0651.


Objectives: Understanding families' quality of life can be important for interdisciplinary treatment planning. The present study examined child and parent perspectives about how constipation and fecal incontinence affect families' quality of life.

Patients and methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 8 children/adolescents and 8 caregivers. All of the children met Rome II criteria for functional constipation. Interviews were analyzed by an interdisciplinary team using a content analysis approach, which included developing a coding manual that described emergent themes from the interview transcripts.

Results: Qualitative and quantitative responses revealed the varied experiences of participating families. Child and parent views may be misaligned, which can affect treatment planning and effectiveness. Families described variable satisfaction with the treatment recommendations they had been offered and experienced difficulty finding appropriate care. Children's social and family functioning were significantly affected by constipation and fecal incontinence difficulties. Both children and parents described the challenges of discussing the problems with others.

Conclusions: Multiple domains of individual and family functioning are affected by children's constipation and fecal incontinence difficulties, thereby affecting the quality of life of both children and their parents. The findings underscore the need for providers to consider the influence of symptoms on adjustment to both the medical condition and treatment adherence and discuss concerns with children and parents. The results provide the foundation for developing a standardized tool for quantitative assessment of quality of life for children with constipation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Constipation* / psychology
  • Fecal Incontinence* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Psychology, Child
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Behavior*