Background: Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), a safe, effective alternative therapy for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), is infrequently used, in part because of an assumption that patients are unwilling to consider FMT because of its unappealing nature.
Methods: Through a structured survey, including hypothetical case scenarios, we assessed patient perceptions of the aesthetics of FMT and their willingness to consider it as a treatment option, when presented with scenarios involving recurrent CDI.
Results: Four hundred surveys were distributed; 192 (48%) were returned complete. Seventy percent of respondents were female; 59% were >49 years of age. When provided efficacy data only, 162 respondents (85%) chose to receive FMT, and 29 (15%) chose antibiotics alone. When aware of the fecal nature of FMT, 16 respondents changed their choice from FMT to antibiotics alone, but there was no significant change in the total number choosing FMT (154 [81%]; P = .15). More respondents chose FMT if offered as a pill (90%; P = .002) or if their physician recommended it (94%; P < .001). Respondents rated all aspects of FMT at least "somewhat unappealing," selecting "the need to handle stool" and "receiving FMT by nasogastric tube" as most unappealing. Women rated all aspects of FMT more unappealing; older respondents rated all aspects less unappealing. Most respondents preferred to receive FMT in the hospital (48%) or physician's office (39%); 77% were willing to pay out-of-pocket for FMT.
Conclusions: Patients recognize the inherently unappealing nature of FMT, but they are nonetheless open to considering it as a treatment alternative for recurrent CDI, especially when recommended by a physician.