Economic potential of probiotic supplementation in institutionalized elderly with chronic constipation

J. Flach*, M. Koks, M. B. van der Waal, E. Claassen, O. F.A. Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Probiotics have been suggested as an effective supplementation to conventional treatment regimens for chronic constipation in nursing homes, but the financial impact of the intervention for these institutions remains to be determined. We therefore set out to investigate the economic potential of probiotic supplementation in a nursing home setting with regard to constipation management. We aimed to determine the probiotic lower efficacy limit required to reduce the institution's constipation-related expenses, based on quantitative data obtained from nursing home employees. A meta-analysis was conducted on clinical studies reporting the effects of probiotic intervention on constipation status in institutionalized elderly, in order to estimate the probiotic treatment effect. Our results indicate that the constipation-related expenses of an average-sized nursing home with 100 residents and a constipation prevalence of 42%, amount to approximately €90,000 per year. Daily probiotic supplementation of all nursing home residents may reduce the institution's expenses by €8,000-€25,000 annually, as probiotic intervention is suggested to lower the constipation prevalence by 28%. To further substantiate the proposed economic potential of probiotic supplementation, however, it is recommended that the probiotic treatment effect on the workload for nursing home employees is addressed in appropriately scaled and controlled future clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-206
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Early online date9 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Constipation
  • Elderly
  • Health economics
  • Meta-analysis
  • Nursing homes
  • Probiotics


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