AIM: To determine whether distinct symptom groupings exist in a constipated population and whether such grouping might correlate with quantifiable pathophysiological measures of colonic dysfunction. METHODS: One hundred and ninety-one patients presenting to a Gastroenterology clinic with constipation and 32 constipated patients responding to a newspaper advertisement completed a 53-item, wide-ranging selfreport questionnaire. One hundred of these patients had colonic transit measured scintigraphically. Factor analysis determined whether constipation-related symptoms grouped into distinct aspects of symptomatology. Cluster analysis was used to determine whether individual patients naturally group into distinct subtypes. RESULTS: Cluster analysis yielded a 4 cluster solution with the presence or absence of pain and laxative unresponsiveness providing the main descriptors. Amongst all clusters there was a considerable proportion of patients with demonstrable delayed colon transit, irritable bowel syndrome positive criteria and regular stool frequency. The majority of patients with these characteristics also reported regular laxative use. CONCLUSION: Factor analysis identified four constipation subgroups, based on severity and laxative unresponsiveness, in a constipated population. However, clear stratification into clinically identifiable groups remains imprecise.
- Factor analysis