Sun Jung Oh et al present one of the largest cross-sectional, population based online surveys in the US with the aim to determine the prevalence and predictors of individuals seeking healthcare for their constipation and the use of and satisfaction with over-the-counter medications in treating constipation.
In this article by Oh et al., a population-based survey was performed to assess interaction with health care providers and use of pharmacotherapy in a sample of Americans aged 18 years or older who had experienced constipation. All respondents to the survey were first asked which of the following gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms they had experienced:
- abdominal pain
- bowel incontinence
- none of the above
Only those who noted previous constipation, described as “hard, lumpy, or infrequent stools; straining” could continue with the survey. In total, 4,702 respondents with chronic constipation were included.
Less than 2 out of 5 had talked about their constipation with a healthcare provider. Most common were consultations about their constipation with a primary care provider. About half of the respondents took medications to manage their constipation, and the therapy most commonly used were over-the-counter medications such as fiber supplements. In line with this, most respondents believed the cause of their constipation was related to their food intake and that they could manage their symptoms without seeking healthcare. There are several evidence-based therapies that can improve the symptoms of constipation, and further research is needed to better understand why most individuals do not seek care.