Study Shows Epidemiology of Constipation
Although management of constipation is an important component of gastroenterologypractice, the epidemiology of constipation has remained unclear. In the April2004 issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Peter D. R. Higgins, MD,PhD, and John F. Johanson, MD, MSc, reported the findings of a systematic reviewof published literature on the epidemiology of constipation in North America. Acomputer-assisted search of the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Current Contents databaseswas performed independently by both investigators using the following studyselection criteria: (1) samples of adults with constipation were taken from the NorthAmerican population; (2) publications were written in the English language in full manuscriptform; and (3) studies were undertaken to investigate the prevalence, incidence,and natural history of constipation or the impact of constipation on quality of life.
Results showed that prevalence estimates of constipation range from 1.9% to27.2%, with most estimates between 12% and 19%. Prevalence estimates bysex indicate a female-to-male ratio of 2.2:1. In addition, the prevalence of constipationappears to increase with age, particularly after age 65. The authorsconcluded that constipation is common, with approximately 63 million NorthAmericans meeting Rome II diagnostic criteria for constipation, and that effortsshould be expended toward further study of the incidence and natural history ofconstipation and the quality of life of patients with this condition.