A longitudinal study of constipation and laxative use in a community-dwelling elderly population

Barry L. Werth*, Kylie A. Williams, Lisa G. Pont

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Little is known about laxative use, the association of constipation with laxative use, risk factors for constipation and how each of these changes over time in the community-dwelling elderly. Objective: The aim was to explore the prevalence of laxative use and of self-reported constipation, and identify risk factors (including age) associated with constipation, in a cohort of community-dwelling elderly residents. Methods: Data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ALSA) was used to compare differences in constipation and laxative use in the community-dwelling elderly between 1992-1993 and 2003-2004. Results: Relevant data was available for 239 ALSA participants. The prevalence of self-reported constipation increased from 14% in 1992-1993 to 21% in 2003-2004. There was a corresponding increase in the prevalence of laxative use from 6% to 15% over the same period. At both time points, females reported a higher prevalence of both constipation and laxative use however the female:male prevalence ratios decreased over time indicating higher increases in the prevalence of each among males. Persistent chronic constipation occurred in 9% of the cohort. The association between laxative use and self-reported constipation was poor and laxative use was associated with self-reported constipation in less than a third of cases. Conclusion: The prevalence of both constipation and laxative use increases with age in the elderly, and these increases are greater for males than for females. Discrepancies between self-reported constipation and laxative use may suggest sub-optimal management of constipation in the community-dwelling elderly and further work is needed to fully understand this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-424
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Volume60
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

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