Perceptions of and Practices for the Management of Constipation: Results of a Korean National Survey

Gut Liver. 2024 Mar 15;18(2):275-282. doi: 10.5009/gnl230062. Epub 2023 Jul 17.


Background/aims: Although guidelines exist regarding the evaluation and management of patients with chronic constipation (CC), little is known about real-world clinical practice patterns. This study aimed to evaluate the various practices used to manage CC patients in various clinical settings in South Korea.

Methods: A nationwide web-based survey was conducted, randomly selecting gastroenterologists and non-gastroenterologists. The 25-item questionnaire included physicians' perceptions and practices regarding the available options for diagnosing and managing CC patients in Korea.

Results: The study participants comprised 193 physicians (86 gastroenterologists, 44.6%) involved in the clinical management of CC patients. The mean clinical experience was 12 years. Only 21 of 193 respondents (10.9%) used the Rome criteria when diagnosing CC. The Bristol Stool Form Scale was used by 29% of the respondents (56/193), while the digital rectal examination was performed by 11.9% of the respondents (23/193). Laboratory testing and colonoscopies were performed more frequently by gastroenterologists than by non-gastroenterologists (both p=0.001). Physiologic testing was used more frequently by gastroenterologists (p=0.046), physicians at teaching hospitals, and physicians with clinical experience ≤10 years (both p<0.05). There were also significant differences in the preference for laxatives depending on the type of hospital.

Conclusions: There were discrepancies in the diagnosis and management of CC patients depending on the clinical setting. The utilization rates of the Bristol Stool Form Scale and digital rectal examination by physicians are low in real-world clinical practice. These results imply the need for better and more practical training of physicians in the assessment and management of CC.

Keywords: Constipation; Physicians; Surveys and questionnaires; Therapeutics.

MeSH terms

  • Colonoscopy
  • Constipation* / drug therapy
  • Constipation* / therapy
  • Gastroenterologists*
  • Humans
  • Laxatives / therapeutic use
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Laxatives