How accurate is the recall of bowel habits in children with defaecation disorders?

Eur J Pediatr. 1997 Mar;156(3):178-81. doi: 10.1007/s004310050577.


The aim was to assess in children with defaecation disorders, the accuracy of recalled information as provided by the child and/or parents compared to diary information and to evaluate its effect on diagnostic grouping. In this prospective study, recalled information, obtained initially by a telephone interview, was compared with recorded information provided by a 4-week diary. Recalled and recorded data were compared using Kappa indices. Subsequently, children were assigned to three diagnostic groups: constipation, solitary encopresis and a rest group. Based on these diagnoses, the first two groups were allocated for laxative treatment. Analysis of recalled and recorded data was performed in 46 children (5-14 years). Most defaecation parameters showed fair agreement, only limited agreement occurred for frequency of soiling episodes. Identical clinical groups using the two methods were obtained in 63% of the children. Particularly, the assessment of large amounts of stool and the number of soiling episodes were responsible for the shift in the diagnostic groups. A total of 83% children were correctly allocated for treatment using recalled data.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Constipation / diagnosis
  • Constipation / psychology*
  • Constipation / therapy
  • Data Collection
  • Defecation*
  • Encopresis / diagnosis
  • Encopresis / psychology*
  • Encopresis / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Mental Recall*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results