1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ton-Yen General Hospital, Hsinchu County, Taiwan
2Department of Nursing, Chong-De Nursing Home, Hsinchu County, Taiwan
3Department of Neurology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Hsin-Chu Branch, Hsinchu County, Taiwan
Background Long-term care residents are susceptible to constipation and one-half to three quarter of older nursing home residents receive laxatives regularly. Objectives The purpose of this study was to evaluate the factors related to abnormal bowel function and explore the effectiveness of laxative treatment among the elderly residents of a nursing home. Patients and Methods A total of 110 residents older than 65 years old was enrolled in this study. The following variables were gathered: age, gender, body mass index (BMI), length of stay, daily fluid intake, type of food, functional level, cognitive ability, physical therapy status, somatic and psychiatric diseases, number of medications, and medication use. The use and dosage of laxatives were recorded by means of Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification system. Normal bowel function was defined as defecation frequency from three defecations per day to three defecations per week and stool consistency score of three to five on Bristol Stool Form Scale. A comparison between groups with normal and abnormal bowel function was drawn. Results Low BMI, increased fluid intake, liquid food intake, poor functional level, poor cognition, and a history of stroke were significantly associated with altered bowel function (P < 0.05). The most frequently used laxatives were glycerol, senna glycoside, and magnesium oxide. There were significant differences in laxative regimens between residents with normal and altered bowel function; those with altered bowel function tended to take more laxatives than those with normal bowel function. Conclusions This study suggested that treatment of constipation in the nursing home was unsatisfactory. To improve treatment outcomes in those susceptible to altered bowel function, a coordinated approach with involvement of physicians, nursing staff, and other professionals including dieticians and pharmacists seems necessary.