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Wednesday 27 March 2024

Unanswered questions sought for common bowel problem

A Southampton surgeon is inviting people to identify how research can help people who have bowel accidents.

Faecal incontinence, also known as bowel incontinence, is when a person has problems controlling their bowels.

It is thought to affect up to one in ten adults in the UK. In women, it is often related to childbirth and the menopause.

Mr Thomas Dudding is promoting and leading a new project that aims to improve the lives of those living with faecal incontinence.

A priority setting partnership (PSP) supported by the Pelvic Floor Society and James Lind Alliance has been set up to identify research priorities for adults with faecal incontinence.

Clinicians and partners shared the project with parliamentarians in an event at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 20th March.

The event at the Houses of Parliament

Getting voices heard

Patients, carers and clinicians are invited to define the ‘Top 10’ priorities for faecal incontinence research.

The online PSP survey takes around 10 minutes to complete and is open until 12th April 2024. All responses are anonymous.

Mr Dudding, a consultant in gastrointestinal surgery at University Hospital Southampton, said:

“Faecal incontinence is a common but under studied condition. It can have a huge impact on people’s lives and the majority of patients live in silence.

“We want to ensure that future research about incontinence care addresses issues or problems that are important to patients, families and those that support them.”

“This survey will help us identify uncertainties around the impact of faecal incontinence on patient’s lives. It will also show the challenges of living with faecal incontinence, the stigma associated with the condition and the barriers experienced by patients and carers in accessing support.”

Overcoming the stigma

Faecal incontinence can have a significant impact on people’s lives.

People with the condition may experience leaks or struggle to get to the toilet in time.

They can experience relationship breakdown, loss of employment, depression, anxiety and social isolation.

The pelvic floor report, published in 2021, found it affects up to 10% of UK adults.

Yet the report found up to 85% of people with the condition do not seek medical help, mainly due to the associated embarrassment and stigma.

By addressing people’s priorities through research studies, the project aims to improve the lives and treatment outcomes of people across the UK.

If you are living with faecal incontinence, or are a carer or clinical for people who have it, you can take part in this survey to say what you think the top 10 research priorities should be.