Primary care: constipation and encopresis treatment strategies and reasons to refer

Gastroenterol Nurs. Sep-Oct 2010;33(5):363-6. doi: 10.1097/SGA.0b013e3181f35020.

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to assess constipation and encopresis treatment strategies of primary care providers and determine reasons to refer to a pediatric gastroenterology specialist. A closed-ended questionnaire was mailed to a convenience sampling of 237 pediatric primary care providers. Ninety-one questionnaires were returned with a 38% response rate: 74 (81%) pediatricians and 17 (19%) nurse practitioners. The majority of responders recommended pharmacologic treatment and diet changes. Many providers (73%) estimated a 75%-100% success rate when managing constipation, whereas 19% providers estimated a greater than 80% success rate with encopresis patients. The number one reason to refer was unresponsiveness to treatment (71%), followed by parents want a second opinion (15%), rule out organic cause (9%), and management is too time-consuming (5%). Both primary care providers and pediatric gastroenterologists use medication strategies, but diet recommendations are not the same. Unresponsiveness to treatment is the main reason for referral. If better management can occur in the primary care setting, costly specialty services may be avoided and possibly reduce healthcare costs.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Encopresis / therapy*
  • Gastroenterology*
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Referral and Consultation*