The low socioeconomic region of Greater Western Sydney (GWS) has higher than average rates of gastrointestinal symptoms. The relationship between prescription drug usage and constipation has not been explored. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of drug use on constipation in the elderly population of GWS (NSW, Australia). A random selection of elderly residents completed a postal questionnaire for constipation and drug use (response 30.7%). Bivariate associations between constipation and number of drug use and number of drug use with constipation adverse effect were compared. For multivariate analysis multiple logistic regression was performed for constipation with the number of drugs, use of drugs with known constipation side effects, and each drug class (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (ATC) level 4) as independent variables. The prevalence of constipation was 33.9%. There was a dose-response relationship between constipation and the number of drugs used (odds ratio 1.24, p < 0.001) and the usage of drugs with known constipation adverse effects (odds ratio 2.21, p = 0.009). These findings suggest that constipation is associated with the number of drugs used, particularly those with constipation adverse-effects, in the elderly of GWS.
Keywords: constipation; elderly; population study; prescription drug.