Metrics Used to Quantify Fecal Incontinence and Constipation

Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2021 Jan;34(1):5-14. doi: 10.1055/s-0040-1714245.Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Cameron W Hunt 1, Paul M Cavallaro 1, Liliana G Bordeianou 2


Author information

  • 1Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 2Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


While fecal incontinence and constipation can be measured through physiological testing, the subjective experience of severity and impact on health-related quality of life lead to both being most effectively captured through patient-reported measures. Patient-reported measures of severity and impact help to determine baseline symptoms, guide clinical decision making, and compare various treatments. Here, we take pause to review the psychometric qualities that make effective instruments, and discuss some of the most commonly used instruments along with the reasons behind their use. In addition, we highlight the benefits of a standardized instrument designed to evaluate the major symptoms of patients presenting with pelvic floor disorders (including fecal incontinence and constipation). Ultimately, we aim to provide guidance in choosing appropriate instruments for clinical and research use.

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