Preventing, assessing and managing constipation in people with intellectual disabilities
evidence and practice    

Preventing, assessing and managing constipation in people with intellectual disabilities

Paul Horan Assistant Professor of Intellectual Disability Nursing, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland
Michelle Cleary Nurse Educator, Muíriosa Foundation, Monasterevin, Ireland
Sandra Fleming Assistant Professor, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland
Jacinta Mulhere Teaching Fellow, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland
Carmel Doyle Assistant Professor, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland
Eilish Burke Ussher Assistant Professor in Ageing and Intellectual Disability, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland
Kathleen Byrne Clinical Nurse Tutor, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland
Paul Keenan Assistant Professor of Intellectual Disability Nursing, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland

Why you should read this article:
  • To recognise the reasons why people with intellectual disabilities may be at increased risk of constipation and related complications

  • To enhance your awareness of what is involved in the prevention, assessment and management of constipation in people with intellectual disabilities

  • To understand the importance of adopting a holistic, integrated and person-centred approach to address constipation in people with intellectual disabilities

Constipation is a common condition that can have significant adverse effects on people’s psychological well-being and quality of life. Chronic constipation is associated with various burdensome symptoms and may lead to serious health issues, such as faecal impaction and bowel obstruction. People with intellectual disabilities may be at increased risk of constipation for several reasons, including side effects of medicines, suboptimal diet and limited mobility.

This article outlines the causes and risk factors that can lead to constipation in people with intellectual disabilities. It discusses the prevention, assessment and management of this condition, emphasising the need for a holistic, integrated and person-centred approach. The article also uses a fictional case study to illustrate how such an approach could be applied in practice and to demonstrate the role of nurses in addressing constipation in people with intellectual disabilities.

Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2020.e2067

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

pahoran@tcd.ie

Conflict of interest

None declared

Horan P, Cleary M, Fleming S et al (2020) Preventing, assessing and managing constipation in people with intellectual disabilities. Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2020.e2067

Published online: 13 August 2020

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