Treatment of constipation and fecal incontinence in stroke patients - Randomized controlled trial

D Harari, C Norton, L Lockwood, C Swift

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82 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose-Despite its high prevalence in stroke survivors, there is little clinical research on bowel dysfunction in this population. This is the first randomized controlled trial to evaluate treatment of constipation and fecal incontinence in stroke survivors. Methods-Stroke patients with constipation or fecal incontinence were identified by screening questionnaire (122 community, 24 stroke rehabilitation inpatients) and randomized to intervention or routine care (73 per group). The intervention consisted of a 1-off structured nurse assessment (history and rectal examination), leading to targeted patient/carer education with booklet and provision of diagnostic summary and treatment recommendations (after consultation with geriatrician) to patient's general practitioner (GP)+/-ward physician. Results-Percentage of bowel movements (BMs) per week graded as "normal" by participants in a prospective 1-week stool diary was significantly higher in intervention versus control patients at 6 months (72% versus 55%; P=0.027), as was mean number of BMs per week (5.2 versus 3.6; P=0.005). There was no significant reduction in fecal incontinence, although numbers were small. At 12 months, intervention patients were more likely to be modifying their diets (odds ratio [OR], 3.1 [1.2 to 8.0]) and fluid intake (OR, 4.2 [1.4 to 12.2]) to control their bowels and to have visited their GP for their bowel problem (OR, 5.0 [1.4 to 17.5]). GP prescribing of laxatives and suppositories was significantly influenced at 12 months. Conclusions-A single clinical/educational nurse intervention in stroke patients effectively improved symptoms of bowel dysfunction up to 6 months later, changed bowel-modifying lifestyle behaviors up to 12 months later, and influenced patient-GP interaction and physician prescribing patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2549 - 2555
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


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