Laxative Use and Self-Reported Constipation in a Community-Dwelling Elderly Population: A Community-Based Survey From Australia

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The objectives of this study were to (1) determine the prevalence of laxative use and self-reported constipation and (2) identify risk factors associated with constipation in a community-dwelling elderly population. A retrospective cross-sectional survey using data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing was used to explore laxative use and constipation in a cohort of community-dwelling older persons. The prevalence of laxative use was 15% and the prevalence of self-reported constipation was 21%. Females were more likely to report constipation and use laxatives. Of those using laxatives, men were more likely to have their laxatives prescribed by a doctor whereas women were more likely to self-medicate. Poor self-rated health and a higher need for assistance with activities of daily living were identified as risk factors for constipation. Constipation is a common condition affecting the community-dwelling elderly. There is a need to optimize the management of constipation and use of laxatives in such populations.

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