Identifying factors that predict worse constipation symptoms in palliative care patients: a secondary analysis.

Katherine Clark, Lawrence T. Lam, Nicholas J. Talley, Jane L. Phillips, David C. Currow

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    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: The aim of this work was to investigate whether variables identified as likely to impact the experience of constipation in other clinical settings similarly affected the experiences of constipated palliative care patients. Background: The majority of palliative care patients with cancer are likely to be bothered by constipation symptoms at some point in their disease trajectory. Despite this, it remains unclear as to which factors predict more severe problems. Methods: This study was conducted in a sample of 94 constipated palliative care patients who were asked to voluntarily complete a series of questions regarding their demographic and other characteristics, including whether they had chronic constipation symptoms, that is, constipation symptoms for 12 months. Other variables included age, body mass index, sex, performance status, and regular opioids and their doses. At the same time, they were asked to complete the Patient Assessment of Constipation Symptoms (PAC-SYM) and Patient Assessment of Constipation Quality of Life (PAC-QOL) questionnaires. Results: Descriptive statistics summarized baseline data. Unadjusted associations between the selected variables on PAC-SYM were examined by using bi-variate analyses. Significant variables identified on bi-variate analyses were included in a multivariate analysis. The final results identified that only the chronicity of constipation symptoms predicted more severe symptoms. This relationship persisted when this single variable was retained in the final model, illustrating that PAC-SYM scores are 0.41 higher in patients with chronic constipation compared with those without it (p = 0.02). In contrast, regular opioid use was not identified as a significant factor (p = 0.56). Discussion: This study suggests that the factor most likely to predict worse constipation symptoms was the duration that people had experienced problems. Further, those who perceived their constipation symptoms to be more severe had a poorer quality of life. More work is required to better define constipation risk factors and ways to best modify a patient's experiences.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)528-532
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
    Issue number5
    Early online date18 Oct 2016
    Publication statusPublished - May 2017


    • Palliative care
    • Constipation symptoms
    • Severity
    • severity
    • palliative care
    • constipation symptoms


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