Chronic childhood constipation: A review of the literature and the introduction of a protocolized behavioral intervention program

M.A. Benninga, M.A. Grootenhuis, A.M. Nieuwenhuizen, B.F. Last, M van Dijk

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To release a newly protocolized behavioral intervention program for children with chronic constipation aged 4-18 years with guidance from literature about underlying theories from which the treatment techniques follow. Methods: Articles until July 2006 were identified through electronic searches in Medline, PsychInfo and Picarta. There was no limit placed on the time periods searched. Following keywords were used: constipation, encopresis, fecal incontinence, psychotherapy, emotions, randomized controlled trials, parent-child relations, parents, family, psychology, behavioral, behavioral problems, psychopathology, toilet, social, psychosocial, pain, retentive posturing, stool withholding, stool toileting refusal, shame, stress, anxiety. A filter was used to select literature referring to children 0-18 years old. Key constructs and content of sessions for a protocolized behavioral intervention program are derived from literature. Results: Seventy-one articles on chronic childhood constipation are critically reviewed and categorized into sections on epidemiology, symptomatology, etiology and consequences, treatment and effectivity, and follow-up on chronic childhood constipation. This is followed by an extensive description of our protocolized behavioral intervention program. Conclusion: This is the first article on childhood constipation presenting a full and transparent description of a behavioral intervention program embedded in literature. In addition, a theoretical framework is provided that can serve as a trial paradigm to evaluate intervention effectiveness. Practice implications: This article can serve as an extensive guideline in routine practice to treat chronically constipated children. By releasing our protocolized behavioral intervention program and by offering a theoretical framework we expect to provide a good opportunity to evaluate clinical effectivity by both randomized controlled trials and qualitative research methods. Findings will contribute to the implementation of an effective treatment for chronic constipation in childhood. © 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-77
Number of pages15
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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