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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 25, Suppl B, Pages 11B-15B

Epidemiology and Burden of Chronic Constipation

Maria Ines Pinto Sanchez and Premysl Bercik

The Farncombe Family Digestive Health Institute, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Received 31 May 2011; Accepted 10 June 2011

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chronic constipation is an important component of clinical gastroenterology practice worldwide. Based on the definition, either self-reported or using Rome criteria, chronic constipation can affect from 2% to 27% of the population. Constipation is physically and mentally troublesome for many patients, and can significantly interfere with their daily living and well-being. Although only a proportion of patients with constipation seek medical care, most of them use prescribed or over-the-counter medication to improve their condition. The health care costs of constipation are significant as evidenced by the hundreds of million dollars spent yearly on laxatives alone. Because constipation is more common in older patients and life expectancy is increasing, an increase in the prevalence of constipation is expected in the years to come, with the associated impact on quality of life and socioeconomic burden.