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J R Soc Med. 1984 February; 77(2): 108–110.
PMCID: PMC1439736

Constipation: what does the patient mean?


Constipation is a very common complaint but, in the absence of a universally accepted definition, misunderstandings may result between doctor and patient. Two hundred and eighty-seven patients attending this hospital completed a questionnaire which attempted to establish what patients themselves mean by the term. Almost half considered constipation purely in terms of frequency of bowel action, without considering difficulty or pain on defaecation. Women were more likely to have infrequent bowel actions than men, and men more likely to consider such infrequency harmful. A quarter of respondents believed in the benefits of regular purgation, surprisingly with no difference in attitude between age groups, but men were much less likely to have heeded their own advice.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Connell AM, Hilton C, Irvine G, Lennard-Jones JE, Misiewicz JJ. Variation of bowel habit in two population samples. Br Med J. 1965 Nov 6;2(5470):1095–1099. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Rendtorff RC, Kashgarian M. Stool patterns of healthy adult males. Dis Colon Rectum. 1967 May-Jun;10(3):222–228. [PubMed]

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