Epidemiology of constipation in adults: Why estimates of prevalence differ

Barry Werth


This review of over 80 articles published in the last 30 years shows that estimates of the prevalence of chronic constipation in community-dwelling adults varied widely from 2.4% to 39.6% in general adult populations and from 4% to 25.8% in older adult populations. Estimates of the prevalence of any constipation (including both chronic and sporadic constipation) also varied widely from 2.6% to 31.0% in general adult populations and from 4.4% to 44.5% in older adult populations. Apart from any country or regional differences, this wide range of estimated prevalence may be attributed to different definitions used for both chronic and any constipation as well as different data collection methods and sampling differences. Sampling issues include sample size, representativeness and age range of populations sampled. Further research is required to examine the impact of different definitions on prevalence estimates to help determine the best definitions for use in future epidemiological studies. If standard definitions can be universally agreed and used, along with appropriate sampling and data collection methods, more precise estimates of constipation prevalence should be attained. This would allow more meaningful comparisons between countries and may also provide the ability to pool results.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jer.v5n1p37


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Journal of Epidemiological Research

ISSN 2377-9306(Print)  ISSN 2377-9330(Online)

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