Fecal Incontinence in Adolescents Is Associated With Child Abuse, Somatization, and Poor Health-related Quality of Life

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between fecal incontinence (FI), child abuse, somatization, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in adolescents.


Adolescents (ages 13–18 years) were selected from 4 semi-urban schools in the Gampaha district, Sri Lanka. A validated, self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection. FI was defined as at least 1 episode of leakage of feces per month.


A total of 1807 adolescents were analyzed (boys 973 [53.8%], mean age 14.4 years, standard deviation [SD] 1.4 years). A total of 47 (2.6%) had FI. Prevalence of sexual abuse (17% vs 2.3% in controls, P < 0.0001), emotional abuse (40.4% vs 22.7%, P < 0.0001), and physical abuse (51% vs 24.3%, P < 0.0001) was significantly higher in children with FI. Adolescents with FI had higher mean somatization scores [mean 20.1, (SD 14.5) vs mean 9.3, (SD 9.2)] compared with those without FI (P < 0.0001). Those with FI also had lower HRQoL scores for physical functioning, social functioning, emotional functioning domains, and performances at school, together with a lower overall HRQoL score compared with those without FI (74.6 vs 87.1, P < 0.0001).


There is a significant association between FI and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. They also have a higher somatization score and a poor HRQoL score in physical, emotional, social, and school functioning domains compared with those without FI.

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