Impact of chronic constipation on health-related quality of life, work productivity, and healthcare resource use: an analysis of the National Health and Wellness Survey

Dig Dis Sci. 2011 Sep;56(9):2688-95. doi: 10.1007/s10620-011-1639-5. Epub 2011 Mar 6.


Background: There has been limited research addressing the effects of constipation on work productivity and healthcare resource use.

Aims: To assess the effect of chronic constipation on health outcomes and healthcare resource use.

Methods: Using data from the 2007 National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS), chronic constipation patients (n = 1,430) were propensity score-matched to controls (n = 1,430) on demographic and clinical characteristics. Differences between groups in health-related quality of life (SF-12v2), work productivity and activity impairment, and resource use in the last 6 months were examined. Mediation analyses were conducted in order to determine whether the relationship between constipation and resource use was caused by a reduction in health status.

Results: Chronic constipation patients reported significantly lower levels of health-related quality of life (physical component summary score: 39.57 vs. 43.73; mental component summary score: 43.19 vs. 47.86, all P-values < 0.01) and significantly higher levels of loss of work productivity and activity impairment (absenteeism: 9.08% vs. 5.20%; presenteeism: 29.52% vs. 19.09%; overall work impairment: 33.65% vs. 21.56%; activity impairment: 46.58% vs. 33.90%, all P-values < 0.01) compared to the matched controls. Chronic constipation patients also reported significantly more provider (7.73 vs. 5.63) and emergency room visits (0.52 vs. 0.30) in the past 6 months (all P-values < 0.01). Mediation analyses suggested that increased resource use among chronic constipation patients were partially a result of reduced health status.

Conclusions: Compared to matched controls, chronic constipation patients reported greater economic and humanistic burden. Alleviating the humanistic burden associated with constipation may have economic benefits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Constipation / complications*
  • Constipation / economics
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*