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01.06.2015 | Original Article | Ausgabe 6/2015 Open Access

Supportive Care in Cancer 6/2015

Behavioral risk factors of constipation in palliative care patients

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 6/2015
Tomasz Dzierżanowski, Aleksandra Ciałkowska-Rysz
Wichtige Hinweise
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Constipation is frequently encountered in palliative care patients and remains a significant therapeutic problem. The etiology of constipation is multifactorial. Nutritional and behavioral factors are considered common causes of constipation; however, their impact has not yet been assessed precisely.


The aim of this study was to assess the correlation between the frequency of bowel movements (FoBM) and risk factors of constipation in palliative care patients.

Design and subjects

A cohort retrospective study was performed in three palliative care centers, including outpatient, home, and inpatient care cancer patients using questionnaires on bowel dysfunction symptoms, behavioral risk factors, and opioid use. The inclusion criterion was adult patients examined on the day of admission. The exclusion criterion was Karnofsky performance status score ≤20.


Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient was used to measure the statistical dependence between two variables and frequency analysis was performed using the chi-squared test and Fisher’s exact test.


Two hundred thirty-seven valid questionnaires were collected. We found the correlation between FoBM and insufficient food and fluid intake (p < 0.0001), as well as for inadequate conditions of privacy (p = 0.0008), dependency on a caregiver (p = 0.0059), and the patient’s overall performance status (p = 0.013). We did not manage to prove bed rest as the independent risk factor of constipation.


The main risk factors of constipation in palliative care patients appeared to be insufficient fluid and food intake, inadequate conditions of privacy, dependency on a caregiver, as well as poor general performance status.

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