Initiative to improve detection of faecal incontinence in primary care: The GIFT Project

Fam Pract. 2017 Apr 1;34(2):175-179. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmx004.


Background: Faecal incontinence (FI) is a distressing condition with a significant impact on quality of life. The true prevalence of FI is unknown but probably underestimated. Identifying patients affected is of key importance because a significant proportion may improve with conservative treatments, and there are a number of other treatments available.

Objectives: The aim of our project was to improve detection of FI in our primary care setting.

Methods: A multidisciplinary working group was created in order to raise awareness and educate health professionals about FI. We designed a simple protocol and organized educational meetings at 7 primary care centres. The usual diagnostic computer-based tools used by nurses were modified, so that FI was systematically asked about. A proactive attitude among doctors and midwives regarding FI was recommended for high-risk patient groups.

Results: The project was implemented in October 2014. Before the intervention, only 250 (<1%) patients with a diagnosis of FI were identified from the primary care register out of a population over 165000 people. Between October 2014 and February 2016, 17370 patients were questioned about anal continence in routine follow-ups. Of those questioned, 829 (4.8%) disclosed suffering from FI. Mean age was 78.5 ± 14 years (16-104), 565 (68.2%) were females, and 264 (31.8%) were males. The percentage of patients with FI increased with age and was higher in women.

Conclusion: Our results show that a proactive approach with direct questions on FI may lead to a significant increase in FI detection in primary care.

Keywords: Detection; faecal incontinence; improvement; primary care.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Fecal Incontinence / diagnosis*
  • Fecal Incontinence / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors