Risk factors for and assessment of constipation
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Risk factors for and assessment of constipation

Sherree Chapman Postgraduate student, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Catherine Hungerford Associate professor of nursing, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Sherree Chapman and Catherine Hungerford discuss why the condition develops in older people and the limitations of current assessment tools

Constipation commonly occurs in older people, particularly in hospital or residential care settings, and leads to decreased quality of life and increased healthcare costs. Despite its frequency, however, nurses often overlook the condition. One possible reason for this may be the lack of appropriate tools or scales for nurses to assess risk factors for developing constipation. This article identifies, from the academic literature, 14 risk factors for developing constipation in older people. These factors are then considered in light of four common constipation assessment charts. The article concludes by arguing the need for more comprehensive assessment tools to, firstly, identify risk factors; and, secondly, support the implementation of appropriate preventative strategies that will enable better health outcomes for older people.

Nursing Older People. 27, 3, 16-24. doi: 10.7748/nop.27.3.16.e673



Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 23 December 2014

Accepted: 02 February 2015

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