Comparison of recall and daily self-report of fecal incontinence severity

Donna Z. Bliss, Katharine Fisher, Kay Savik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: Fecal incontinence (FI) severity is determined by self-report, and most tools rely on recall of symptoms. This study examined whether recall of FI severity differed from daily reports on a diary and the factors influencing any difference. INSTRUMENTS AND Design: Data of 96 participants (mean age 59 years, 78% female) reported on 3 data collection forms (a demographics form, a bowel history, and a stool diary) were analyzed. Data collected during an initial bowel history when participants reported FI severity using recall were compared to similar data participants recorded on a 14-day daily stool diary during a baseline period of a study investigating the effects of different types of dietary fiber on FI. Results: The total FI severity score from the daily stool diary (median 5.0, range 1.2-15.5; P = .04) was significantly higher (worse FI) than the recalled bowel history (median 3.0, range 0.36-27.5). A higher, more positive difference in scores between recall and daily diary reporting indicated greater underreporting on recall. Caregivers underreported FI severity on recall compared to noncaregivers (P = .003). CONCLUSIONS: Reasons for underreporting FI are probably multifactorial; findings suggest that being a caregiver and having double incontinence are contributing factors. Clinicians should inquire about FI with a discerning yet sensitive approach. Use of a daily stool diary is recommended in research and may be useful in practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-520
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2008

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Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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