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Keywords:

  • children;
  • constipation;
  • Hong Kong;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • primary school

Aim.  To examine what factors were associated with functional constipation amongst primary school students.

Background.  Constipation in school-age children has also been brought to the attention of health care researchers because this requires long-term therapy. The prognosis of functional constipation is vague because it has many causative factors. In fact, the focus on constipation in the health care system is always placed on medical management, rather than prevention.

Design.  A descriptive survey.

Method.  The survey was conducted on March 2008 at one primary school in Hong Kong; 383 children who are studying in primary 3–5 aged from 8–10 completed a questionnaire. Three main outcome variables were employed in the study: demographic, constipation assessment scale and dietary and environmental factors.

Results.  There were 7·3% students with functional constipation. Students who were age ∼10 (p < 0·001), with a total daily fluid intake (200 ml/cup) of 3–4 cups (p < 0·001) or +5 cups (p < 0·001) and preference for eating fruit and vegetables (p < 0·001) were less likely to have functional constipation.

Conclusion.  The findings should aid paediatric health care professionals and parents to gain a more profound understanding of the nature and prevention of functional constipation. To help primary school students and their parents to cope with functional constipation, greater familiarity with its prevalence and the characteristics of its contributory factors is needed. It is hoped that this could providing a better understanding and awareness of this issue and that it will encourage setting up strategies to decrease the morbidity and diminish the negative consequences of functional constipation for primary school students.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Nurses can act as advocators for primary school students, parents and school teachers in understanding and preventing functional constipation.