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  1. Gulick, Elsie E.


Bowel dysfunction is a common and disabling symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS) that contributes to poor quality of life in affected persons. Despite the high prevalence of bowel dysfunction in MS, there is a paucity of information reported in the literature about this common problem for this group. The aim of this study was to compare constipation (Con), fecal incontinence (FI), and both constipation and fecal incontinence (Con&FI) regarding the prevalence, related medical history, bowel symptoms, and interventions used to manage bowel symptoms in persons with MS using scales constructed from the Bowel Function Questionnaire for Persons with MS. A sample of 700 MS subjects from the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis patient registry were randomly recruited and sent survey materials pertaining to bowel dysfunction. There were 502 respondents. Study results indicated that the prevalence rates for bowel dysfunction were 39% Con, 11.4% FI, and 35.8% Con&FI. Significant differences were observed between Con, FI, and Con&FI groups on the bowel dysfunction scales regarding related medical history, bowel symptoms, and interventions used to manage bowel symptoms. The Con, FI, and Con&FI scales demonstrated satisfactory reliability and validity. The three bowel dysfunction scales can be used in the initial and the follow-up assessments of bowel dysfunction among persons with MS to determine the kinds of bowel symptoms currently experienced and if changes in the interventions used to manage bowel symptoms for persons with MS are needed.