The Brussels Infant and Toddler Stool Scale: A Study on Interobserver Reliability

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2019 Feb;68(2):207-213. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002153.


Objectives: The Bristol Stool Form Scale (BSFS) is inadequate for non-toilet trained children. The Brussels Infant and Toddler Stool Scale (BITSS) was developed, consisting of 7 photographs of diapers containing stools of infants and toddlers. We aimed to evaluate interobserver reliability of stool consistency assessment among parents, nurses, and medical doctors (MDs) using the BITSS.

Methods: In this multicenter cross-sectional study (2016-2017), BITSS photographs were rated according to the BSFS. The reliability of the BITSS was evaluated using the overall proportion of perfect agreement and the linearly weighted κ statistic.

Results: A total of 2462 observers participated: 1181 parents (48.0%), 624 nurses (25.3%), and 657 MDs (26.7%). The best-performing BITSS photographs corresponded with BSFS type 7 (87.5%) and type 4 (87.6%), followed by the BITSS photographs representing BSFS type 6 (75.0%), BSFS type 5 (68.0%), BSFS type 1 (64.8%), and BSFS type 3 (64.6%). The weakest performing BITSS photograph corresponded with BSFS type 2 (49.7%). The overall weighted κ-value was 0.72 (95% CI 0.59-0.85; good agreement). Based on these results, photographs were categorized per stool group as hard (BSFS type 1-3), formed (BSFS type 4), loose (BSFS types 5 and 6), or watery (BSFS type 7) stools. According to this new categorization system, correct allocation for each photograph ranged from 83 to 96% (average: 90%). The overall proportion of correct allocations was 72.8%.

Conclusions: BITSS showed good agreement with BSFS. Using the newly categorized BITSS photographs, the BITSS is reliable for the assessment of stools of non-toilet trained children in clinical practice and research. A multilanguage translated version of the BITSS can be downloaded at

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Belgium
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feces*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data
  • Observer Variation
  • Parents
  • Photography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Visual Analog Scale*