Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
June 14, 2021
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Functional constipation cases vary across countries

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Reported cases of function constipation varied between countries; future research is needed to determine the underlying cause of geographical variability, according to a study published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

“The term functional constipation has been proposed and defined by the Rome Foundation to help standardize the diagnosis of chronic constipation in the absence of physiological abnormality. Over the last two decades, the Rome criteria have been used with increasing frequency in cross-sectional studies to estimate the prevalence of functional constipation globally,” Brigida Barberio, MD, University of Padova-Azienda Ospedaliera di Padova, and colleagues wrote. “Efforts at determining the global prevalence of functional constipation have accelerated over the last decade, in particular through multinational studies using a combination of data collection techniques.”

Functional constipation prevalence

To estimate the global prevalence of functional constipation, researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of 45 studies representing 80 distinct populations and 275,260 participants with functional constipation according to Rome criteria. Analysis revealed a pooled prevalence of 15.3% (95% CI, 8.1-24.4) in studies using Rome I criteria, 11.2% (95% CI, 7.9-14.9) using Rome II, 10.4% (95% CI, 6.5-14.9) using Rome III and 10.1% (95% CI, 8.7-11.6) using Rome IV criteria. By geographic location, the prevalence of functional constipation was lowest in Australia (7.8%; 95% CI, 6.8-8.8), China (4.8%; 95% CI, 2.9-7.1), Germany (0.2%; 95% CI, 0.1-0.3) and Honduras (1.1%; 95% CI, 0.5-2.1); prevalence was highest in South Korea (24.3%; 95% CI, 20.3-28.7), Turkey (24.5%; 95% CI, 21.3-27.8), the Netherlands (24.5%; 95% CI, 22.1-26.9) and Ghana (26.1%; 95% CI, 23.7-28.7). Irrespective of Rome criteria used, researchers noted a higher prevalence among women compared with men.

“Reasons for this variability are unclear and should be the subject of future research,” Barberio and colleagues concluded. “These data provide up-to-date estimates of the burden of this condition and can be used to inform future health care planning, as well as to underline the importance of the treatment of functional constipation as a research priority.”