Habit training as treatment of encopresis secondary to chronic constipation

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1985 Jun;4(3):397-401. doi: 10.1097/00005176-198506000-00013.


Fifty-eight encopretic children were placed on a habit training regimen consisting of initial disimpaction followed by attempts to defecate after a specific meal, and use of enemas contingent on failure to defecate for 2 successive days. All patients had gross incontinence of long duration. After an average of less than four visits in 5 months, 83% had an excellent outcome, 60% were completely continent, and 23% had only staining. Patients not achieving continence averaged a 90% decrease in frequency of incontinence. The mean frequency of incontinent episodes decreased from 13.2 to 0.52 per week, while appropriate bowel movements increased from 3.8 to 5.9 per week. At follow-up (average of 3 years), 61% of 43 patients contacted had excellent outcomes, 51% were continent, and 10% had only staining. Patients still incontinent at follow-up averaged 89% fewer episodes than they had prior to treatment. These findings show habit training to be a rapidly effective and long-lasting treatment for encopresis secondary to chronic constipation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Constipation / complications*
  • Encopresis / etiology
  • Encopresis / psychology
  • Encopresis / therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans