Arq Gastroenterol. 2023 Jan-Mar;60(1):21-29. doi: 10.1590/S0004-2803.202301000-04.


Background: Despite the potential advantages of patients' self-recordings of bowel habits in lower digestive disorders, few studies evaluate the relevance of clinical information obtained through bowel diaries in clinical practice.

Objective: The main objective of this study was to evaluate the role of bowel diaries as an auxiliary diagnostic tool in lower gastrointestinal disorders consultations.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, at the end of their gastroenterology consultation, patients were questioned about their bowel habits and gastrointestinal symptoms. The bowel diary was then filled by the patients at home for 2 weeks. The data collected from the clinical interview and from the bowel diaries were analyzed.

Results: Fifty-three patients participated in the study. Patients underestimated the number of their bowel movements (BM) in the interviews compared with the bowel diaries (P=0.007). There was a poor agreement between stool consistencies described in the interviews and recorded in the diaries (k=0.281). Patients overestimated their straining during evacuation in the interviews compared with the diaries (P=0.012). Regarding the subgroups' analysis, patients with proctological disorders described less BM in their interviews (P=0.033). Straining during evacuation was higher in the interviews of patients without proctological disorders (P=0.028) and in the interviews of more educated patients (P=0.028).

Conclusion: Overall, there were discrepancies between the clinical interview and the bowel diary regarding the number of BM, the stool consistency and straining. Bowel diaries are therefore a relevant instrument as a complement to the clinical interview to objectify patients' complaints and treat functional gastrointestinal disorders more adequately.

MeSH terms

  • Constipation* / drug therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Defecation
  • Gastroenterology*
  • Humans
  • Intestines