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J Clin Gastroenterol. 1997 Apr;24(3):156-60.

Risk factors for fecal incontinence in a nursing home population.

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Department of Medicine and Health Services Research, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford 61107-5078, USA.


Even though fecal incontinence is a leading cause of nursing home placement, risk factors contributing to its development have not been established. Identification of such factors may lead to prevention of incontinence and reduce the need for nursing home placement. A total of 388 residents of five nursing homes were included. Data regarding mental status, bowel habits, obstetrics history, and the presence, frequency, and severity of fecal incontinence were collected for each participant. Of the 388 nursing home residents, 46% were incontinent of feces. Incontinence was 1.5 times more common in males and in those younger than 65 years of age. In both univariate and multivariate analyses, diarrhea, dementia, restricted mobility, and male gender were independently associated with incontinence. In contrast to previous studies, constipation was not associated with fecal incontinence. If elimination of these risk factors leads to prevention of incontinence in even a few people, some elderly patients may not require institutionalization, which will result in improvement in their quality of life, not to mention a reduction in public health expenditures.

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