Does "Stubbornness" Have a Role in Pediatric Constipation?


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Abstract

ABSTRACT.The objective of this study was to determine if children with constipation are more stubborn, both in general and specifically regarding toileting behaviors, than children without constipation. A secondary objective was to determine if constipated children who are more stubborn are less likely to respond to routine therapeutic interventions than less stubborn constipated children. One hundred one children aged 2 to 6 years, who were first-time presenters (never received treatment) to their primary care physician (PCP) with constipation, were compared with 84 nonconstipated control children of similar age range. Comparison measures included general stubbornness and toilet-specific stubbornness (active resistance to participating in appropriate toileting behaviors). Measures of stubbornness were generated from retrospective questionnaires, prospective toileting diaries completed by the parents, and direct experimenter observations. The constipated children were treated by their PCP for 2 months and then reassessed. Constipated children were perceived by their parents to be significantly more stubborn than control children generally and specifically in terms of toileting. Some study evidence suggested that constipated children who continued to have difficulties after 2 months of treatment by their PCPs were perceived by their parents to have significantly more general stubbornness than constipated children who responded to treatment. Parent-perceived toilet-specific stubbornness significantly improved after successful treatment of the constipation by their PCP. The finding that constipated children had more parent-perceived stubbornness than children without constipation is notable because it may play a role in the development and/or maintenance of this bowel dysfunction as well as being an obstacle in treatment compliance.

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