Send to

Choose Destination
Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Oct 1;28(7):917-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2008.03806.x. Epub 2008 Jul 17.

A multinational survey of prevalence and patterns of laxative use among adults with self-defined constipation.

Author information

Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA.



While numerous studies report prevalence of constipation, use of laxatives is poorly understood.


To conduct a survey in seven countries evaluating prevalence of constipation and laxative use in its treatment.


Thirteen thousand eight hundred seventy-nine adults [approximately 2000 each from US, UK, Germany (GE), France (FR), Italy (IT), Brazil (BR) and South Korea (SK)] completed questionnaires assessing occurrence, frequency, duration and laxative use for treating constipation.


Overall, 12.3% of adults had constipation [range: 5% (GE) to 18% (US)] in the prior year. A greater percent of women from all countries and elderly from all except SK and BR reported constipation; odds ratios for constipation among women and elderly were 2.43 (95% CI: 2.18-2.71) and 1.5 (95% CI: 1.25-1.73) vs. men and young subjects. Among those with constipation, 16% (SK) to 40% (US) used laxatives. Laxative use was generally associated with increasing age, symptom frequency and lower income and education. A similar percentage of men and women with constipation reported using laxatives; a greater percentage of women used laxatives for a longer time.


Prevalence of self-defined constipation and laxative use varies among countries. Prevalence is generally related to gender and age, whereas laxative use is related to age, but not to gender.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center