• feces;
  • incontinence;
  • elderly


An anonymous survey containing questions about the severity of fecal incontinence (FI)—frequency, amount, and type—and its correlates was distributed to community-living elderly at four managed-care clinics. Completed surveys were received from 1,352 respondents whose mean (±standard deviation) age was 75 ± 6 years and 60% of whom were female. Approximately 19% reported having FI one or more times within the past year. Incontinence that soiled underwear or was of loose or liquid consistency was most common. More frequent FI and a greater amount of FI were significantly associated with loose or liquid stool consistency, defecation urgency, bowel surgery, and chronic health conditions. Therapies aimed at normalizing stool consistency or reducing urgency may be beneficial in lessening FI severity. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 27:162–173, 2004