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Int J Gen Med. 2012;5:287-302. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S29011. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Demographics and health care seeking behavior of Singaporean women with chronic constipation: implications for therapeutic management.

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Gleneagles Hospital, National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore.



Chronic constipation is significantly more prevalent in women than men in Singapore. We carried out a survey to study patient demographics, symptom prevalence, healthcare-seeking behavior, and patient satisfaction with available treatment options in women with chronic constipation.


Responses were collected predominantly via a web-based survey from a panel representative of Singapore's women population. Eligibility was established using a nine-question screener.


A total of 1006 invited females took part in an online screener survey, of which 911 respondents did not meet the eligibility requirements for the chronic constipation survey. Of the total panelists consenting to participate (via both online and face-to-face interviews), 100 women met eligibility requirements and took the 22-question survey. Eligible respondents were skewed to younger patients but well mixed in terms of marital status. The majority of them were not keen on doing exercise and were working women, especially white collar females. The majority complained of straining and hard stools as the most common constipation symptoms (88% and 80% respectively) and rated constipation symptoms as severe or moderate. On average, respondents experienced constipation symptoms for 6 to 7 months in the last year. In more than two-thirds of respondents, constipation symptoms were frequent (at least 1 in 3 times). Most of the patients had attempted to treat constipation themselves and 80% had tried laxatives before visiting the doctor. Satisfaction with fiber supplements and laxatives was average and many of the users were not satisfied with their effect. Ineffectiveness and prolonged time taken for the treatment to take effect were the most common reasons for dissatisfaction. Nearly all respondents (97%) were interested in considering alternative prescriptive medication that is proven more effective.


Chronic constipation symptoms in women are often severe and bothersome, and many patients are dissatisfied with available treatment options primarily because of lack of efficacy.


chronic constipation; demographics; health-care; laxatives

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