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J Med Econ. 2013 Dec;16(12):1423-33. doi: 10.3111/13696998.2013.851082. Epub 2013 Oct 25.

Prevalence and impact of constipation and bowel dysfunction induced by strong opioids: a cross-sectional survey of 520 patients with cancer pain: DYONISOS study.

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Hôpital Bichat , Paris , France.



To describe the prevalence of opioid-induced constipation (OIC) in patients with cancer pain according to the Knowles-Eccersley-Scott symptom score (KESS), the different symptoms of opioid-induced bowel dysfunction (OIBD), and to assess the impact of OIBD on patient's quality-of-life.


A cross-sectional observational study, using the KESS questionnaire and the physician's subjective assessment of constipation, and other questionnaires and questions on constipation, OIBD, and quality-of-life, carried out on 1 day at oncology day centres and hospitals.


Five hundred and twenty patients were enrolled at 77 centres in France; 61.7% of patients (n = 321) showed a degree of constipation that is problematic for the patient according to KESS (between 9-39). Even more patients, 85.7% (n = 438), were considered constipated according to the physician's subjective assessment-despite laxative use (84.7% of patients). Quality-of-life was significantly reduced in constipated vs non-constipated patients for both PAC-QoL (p < 0.0001 for total score and each dimension) and the SF-12 questionnaires (statistically significant for all dimensions except physical state and role physical). OIC and OIBD led to hospitalization (16% of patients), pain (75% of patients), and frequent changes in opioid and laxative treatment.


This cross-sectional study, in a selected population of cancer patients, has measured prevalence and impact of OIBD. Further confirmation could be sought through the use of longitudinal studies, and larger populations, such as non-cancer pain patients treated with opioids.


Cancer patients taking opioids for pain are very frequently constipated, even if they are prescribed laxatives. This leads to relevant impairments of quality-of-life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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