Background The impact of constipation on quality of life (QoL) may vary in different cultural or national settings.

Aim We studied QoL in a multinational survey to compare different social and demographic groups with and without constipation (defined according to Rome III criteria) and to detect country-specific differences among the groups studied.

Methods Health-related QoL (HRQoL) was assessed with the Short Form 36 (SF-36) questionnaire in 2870 subjects in France, Germany, Italy, UK, South Korea, Brazil and USA.

Results Respondents were mainly middle-aged, married or living together and part- or full-time employed. General health status, measured by the SF-36 questionnaire, was significantly worse in the constipated vs. non-constipated populations. Results were comparable in all countries. QoL scores correlated negatively with age. Constipated women reported more impaired HRQoL than constipated men. Brazilians were most affected by constipation as to their social functioning (35.8 constipated vs. 51.3 non-constipated) and general health perception (29.4 constipated vs. 54.4 non-constipated).

Conclusions There are significant differences in HRQoL between constipated and non-constipated individuals and a significant, negative correlation between the number of symptoms and complaints and SF-36 scores. The study detected a correlation of constipation with QoL and the influence of social and demographic factors on HRQoL in constipated people.