Eliciting Help-Seeking Behaviors in Patients With Fecal Incontinence: Supporting Timely Access to Treatment

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Abstract

People with fecal incontinence (FI) symptoms often do not report their symptoms to their care providers, which may adversely impact their quality of life. Although the differential diagnosis for the cause of an individual's FI symptoms can be done by a family doctor, nurse practitioner, or a specialist, many other healthcare professionals have the training and education to competently screen patients for FI risk factors. Those individuals identified with FI symptoms can be supported to disclose this information to their healthcare professional in a timely manner. Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to encourage patients to seek medical treatment in order to ensure an accurate diagnosis for their FI symptoms, and to support clients through the process of managing symptoms including adhering to care plans to mitigate modifiable causes of FI. When clients actively seek medical help, it is referred to as help-seeking behavior. Given the sensitive nature of FI, with the associated stigma and taboo surrounding the topic, healthcare providers must conscientiously work to support each client with sensitivity and self-awareness.

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