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Prevalence, Trends, and Risk Factors for Fecal Incontinence in United States Adults, 2005–2010

      Background & Aims

      We investigated the prevalence of and trends and risk factors for fecal incontinence (FI) in the United States among non-institutionalized adults from 2005 to 2010.

      Methods

      We analyzed data from 14,759 participants in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (49% women, 20 years or older) from 2005 to 2010 (the FI Severity Index was added in 2005–2006). FI was defined as accidental leakage of solid or liquid stool or mucus at least once in preceding month. Sampling weights were used to obtain estimates for the national population. Logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for FI.

      Results

      The prevalence of FI among non-institutionalized U.S. adults was 8.39% (95% confidence interval, 7.76–9.05). It was stable throughout the study period: 8.26% in 2005–2006, 8.48% in 2007–2008, and 8.41% in 2009–2010. FI resulted in release of liquid stool in most cases (6.16%). Prevalence increased with age from 2.91% among 20- to 29-year-old participants to 16.16% (14.15%–18.39%) among participants 70 years and older. Independent risk factors for FI included older age, diabetes mellitus, urinary incontinence, frequent and loose stools, and multiple chronic illnesses. FI was more common among women only when they had urinary incontinence.

      Conclusions

      FI is a common problem among non-institutionalized U.S. adults. Its prevalence remained stable from 2005–2010. Diabetes mellitus and chronic diarrhea are modifiable risk factors. Future studies on risk factors for FI should assess for presence of urinary incontinence.

      Keywords

      Abbreviations used in this paper:

      CI (confidence interval), FI (fecal incontinence), NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey), UI (urinary incontinence)
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