Barriers and Facilitators to a Good Bowel Preparation for Colonoscopy in Children: A Qualitative Study

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A well-visualized colon during colonoscopy has a direct impact on interpretation of findings and need for repeat procedure. Studies have been conducted in the adult population to assess factors contributing to improved bowel preparation. The primary aim of this study was to determine barriers and facilitators to good preparation in children.


A qualitative descriptive approach was utilized. Children age 2 to 18 years old, and their parents were recruited from the McMaster University Gastroenterology clinic from May 2015 to January 2016. Semistructured interviews were conducted assessing the understanding of the preparation protocol, and the compliance and tolerability of the preparation. A thematic analysis was conducted.


Eleven families participated (7 children and 14 parents). Fifty percent of the children were under 11 years of age, and 73% were undergoing bowel preparation for the first time. Participants identified 26 subthemes, which were categorized into 4 broad themes. Barriers included confusion regarding mixing of the preparation and allowable diet during the preparation day, as well as lack of clarity on expected stool end goals. Facilitators included ease of access of the gastroenterology team, small volume of liquid mixed with the preparation, few adverse effects, and the provision of an understandable handout. Parental motivation to achieve a good outcome was also a facilitator.


This is the first qualitative study focusing on children undergoing a home bowel preparation for a colonoscopy. Being able to identify barriers and facilitators will allow gastroenterologists to improve the quality of bowel preparation and overall experience for the pediatric population.

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