Assessment and treatment options for patients with constipation

Br J Nurs. 2017 Mar 23;26(6):312-318. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2017.26.6.312.


Constipation is a common complaint for people of all ages, with prevalence increasing with age and during pregnancy. Women are more likely to be affected than men. Severity of constipation varies from person to person; most people experience short periods of constipation during their lives, including possibly after surgery, while others have constipation as a chronic long-term condition that can significantly affect their quality of life. There are a number of factors that can contribute to developing constipation including diets low in fibre, changes in lifestyle, side effects of certain medications and low fluid intake. People can successfully treat constipation by making changes to their diet and lifestyle. However, medication may be required to manage constipation for some.

Keywords: Constipation; Defecation; Diet; Laxatives; Treatment and management.

MeSH terms

  • Cathartics / therapeutic use
  • Constipation / diagnosis
  • Constipation / nursing*
  • Constipation / therapy
  • Diet Therapy*
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Lactulose / therapeutic use
  • Laxatives / therapeutic use*
  • Methylcellulose / therapeutic use
  • Nursing Assessment*
  • Peptides / therapeutic use
  • Polyethylene Glycols / therapeutic use
  • Quality of Life
  • Senna Extract / therapeutic use


  • Cathartics
  • Laxatives
  • Peptides
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Lactulose
  • Senna Extract
  • Methylcellulose
  • linaclotide