Prevalence of Fecal Incontinence in the Acute Care Setting

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PURPOSE:The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of fecal incontinence (FI) and its associated risk factors in acutely ill adult hospitalized patients.METHODS:A cross-sectional design was used to collect data at 2 time points in 7 hospitals in the Midwestern United States. An investigator-developed tool was used by trained data collectors to identify pertinent patient characteristics, the presence of FI, and potential associated factors.RESULTS:The prevalence of FI in the 1083 patients assessed was 20% (n = 221). Prevalence rates from the 7 individual hospitals ranged from 16% to 30%. Medications were the most common associated factor (49%; n = 109), followed by neurologic diseases (40%; n = 89), and bowel motility disorders (30%; n = 67). The majority of patients with FI had stool consistency described as “loose unformed” (59%; n = 130) or “liquid” (25%; n = 55). Many patients had multiple potential risk factors for FI; 48% (n = 107) had 1 associated factor, 37% (n = 82) had 2 associated factors, and 8% (n = 18) had 3 or more associated factors. Age was associated with an increased likelihood of FI; the chances for FI increase 1.7% with each year of age. Unit type was also a significant associated with FI; patients managed in the intensive care unit were 78% more likely to have FI as compared to patients care for in a medical-rehabilitation unit.CONCLUSIONS:Fecal incontinence is a common problem in hospitalized adult patients. Previously identified risk factors were also found in our sample.

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