Bowel health in chronic kidney disease: Patient perceptions differ from clinical definitions
The bowel health of those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can be affected by medications, fluid/dietary allowances, reduced activity and pre-existing medical conditions. Patient perceptions of their bowel health can differ from those of health care professionals and the burden of gastrointestinal symptoms could be inaccurately reported.Methods:
Adults with CKD, including those undergoing haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and kidney transplant from four South Australian hospitals enrolled in the study. Participants completed a five-item questionnaire, to investigate their perception of bowel health compared with clinical criteria for ‘normal and abnormal’ bowel health using the Bristol Stool Form Scale, bowel frequency and reported symptoms.Results:
A total of 324 individuals completed the questionnaire. Of those with clinically defined ‘abnormal’ bowel health (n = 180), 50.6% perceived their bowels as ‘normal’ or ‘more normal than abnormal’. Only 6% of this clinically ‘abnormal’ group perceived their bowel health as abnormal. Of those with clinically defined ‘normal’ bowel health (n = 144), 16% perceived their bowel health as ‘abnormal’, ‘more abnormal than normal‘ or ‘variable’. Fifty-seven percent of patients with clinically defined ‘abnormal’ bowel health were not taking any treatments. Peritoneal dialysis recipients were the highest users of treatments to improve bowel function, with 62% using 1 or more treatment.Conclusions:
It is common for patients with CKD to experience signs and symptoms of abnormal bowel health. There is a disconnect between patient perceptions and clinical definitions of normal or abnormal bowel health. Clinical care team members must carefully obtain and clarify patient-reported symptoms related to bowel function in order to help ensure recommendations and use of appropriate treatments.