Prevalence of constipation among medical students of an institution in Northwestern São Paulo State

Revista Brasileira de Coloproctologia 04/2010; 30(2):203-209.


Introduction: Constipation is a highly prevalent disease in the Western world. It has a complex and multifactorial etiology, and courses with important impacts from a medical and socio-economical point of view. It is possible that health professionals and medical students, given the nature of their professional activities, trend to present higher rates of the disease in comparison to the general population.

Objectives: To determine the prevalence rates of constipation among students of a single medical school according to diagnostic criteria in the literature, and to compare them with those reported among the general population.

Patients and Methods: A transversal study was carried out with a sample of 360 medical students of a single medical school in Northwestern São Paulo State, by means of a self-administered questionnaire; a total of 150 students (42%) completed the questionnaire; definition of constipation was based on the Rome III diagnostic criteria.

Results: The overall prevalence rate of constipation was 35%, with predominance of the disease among female (55%; p< 0.0001); female students also had a lower frequency of daily evacuations and a higher frequency of laxative use (p< 0.05).

Conclusions: The prevalence rate of constipation in the studied population was higher than that reported among general population in several studies, and a more accurate search about this fact will be object of further studies.

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