J Korean Acad Fam Med.  2002 Sep;23(9):1124-1132.

Lifestyle Factors Related to Constipation in Working Women

  • 1Departments of Family Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Korea. ymsong@smc.samsung.co.kr
  • 2Departments of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Masan Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Korea.
  • 3Departments of Family Medicine, Masan Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Korea.


BACKGROUND: While woman, old age, insufficent fiber and water supplement are well known risk factors of constipation, the relationships between constipation and stress, irregular diet and other lifestyle factors have not been well documented. We examined the relationship between constipation and those lifestyle factors in working women.
The study design was a cross-sectional study. The study subjects were 911 women who underwent health examination between May 30th, 2002 and June 30th, 2002 and completed the questionnaires relating to bowel movement. The information on bowel movement, demographic and lifestyle factors acquired through self-administered questionnaires were used for analysis. Chi-square test, t-test, and multiple logistic regression analysis were used.
The prevalence rate of constipation defined by Rome II criteria among study subjects was 48.6%. The most frequent abnormal symptom occurring in more than 25% of abnormal bowel movement was straining (50.0%). Fewer than three bowel movements per week was observed only in 16.1% of the subjects. Among the subjects with self-reported constipation, only 66% had constipation defined by Rome II criteria. High degree of stress was the strongest independent risk factor (odds ratio[OR]:3.02, 95% confidence interval[CI]:1.68-5.41). Low intake of fiber and dieting were significantly related with increased risk of constipation and the OR was 2.08 (95%CI: 1.13-3.81), 1.92 (95%CI: 1.12-3.27), respectively.
The significant relationship between constipation and stress, fiber intake, and dieting suggest that they are the risk factors of constipation. The possibility of disagreement between self-reported and objective constipation should be considered during medical consultation of patient with abnormal bowel habit.


constipation; lifestyle; cross-sectional study

MeSH Terms

Cross-Sectional Studies
Life Style*
Logistic Models
Risk Factors
Women, Working*
Surveys and Questionnaires
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