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The importance of assessing constipation

Constipation is common and may have serious implications for a person's quality of life. Gaye Kyle explains what is needed for a thorough assessment

Chronic constipation is one of the commonest lower gastrointestinal disorders affecting people in the western world.1 It is a major health concern for health providers, particularly for high-risk patients, such as older people, those who are less mobile, people with neurologically impairments and those with multiple healthcare needs. Constipation also has cost implications in terms of medications, containment equipment and nursing time.

Constipation is rarely a life-threatening symptom; however, the distress it causes leads to patient discomfort and diminished quality of life. Unfortunately, constipation may be regarded as less important than other conditions commonly seen in general practice because it does not fall within an agreed management target.2

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