Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Practice Considerations for Assessment of Constipation

  • Obtain a baseline history of person’s bowel pattern: type and quantity of stool, frequency and timing of bowel movements, and any straining with bowel movements.
  • Assess stool consistency using a Bristol Stool Chart.
  • Obtain a seven-day diet history of daily fluid and fibre intake.
  • Conduct a review of medications to evaluate their effect on constipation.
  • Examine co-morbid conditions that may cause or contribute to constipation.
  • Assess the individual’s functional and cognitive status.
  • Perform a digital rectal examination to determine fecal impaction

To view practice notes from expert panel click here


Older Adults
A Proactive Approach to Bowel & Bladder Management in Adults
Point of Care Resources