• fecal incontinence;
  • Koreans;
  • risk factors;
  • prevalence;
  • quality of life

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence and correlates of fecal incontinence (FI) and its effect on quality of life in ambulatory elderly people in Korea.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional, convenience sample–based survey.

SETTING: Twenty-seven senior citizen centers and two health clinics in two cities of Korea.

PARTICIPANTS: Nine hundred eighty-one relatively healthy and ambulatory community-dwelling people aged 60 and older.

MEASUREMENTS: Data were collected through in-person interviews with a structured questionnaire. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine independent risk factors for FI.

RESULTS: The prevalence of FI was 15.5%. FI was significantly associated with lower quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Survey) for physical and mental health. In men, FI was significantly associated with urinary incontinence (odds ratio (OR)=4.89, 95% confidence interval (CI)=2.45–9.77), hemorrhoids (OR=4.66, 95% CI=1.67–12.97), and poor self-perceived health status (P for trend=.02). In women, FI was associated with urinary incontinence (OR=2.91, 95% CI=1.76–4.81), diabetes mellitus (OR=2.04, 95% CI=1.24–3.37), hemorrhoids (OR=2.99, 95% CI=1.31–6.83), and infrequent dietary fiber intake (P for trend=.02).

CONCLUSION: FI is prevalent in elderly Koreans and has a profound effect on quality of life. Physicians should closely screen for FI in elderly patients with certain risk factors and evaluate to control these potentially preventable or modifiable factors.