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Bowel Interest Group features in The Lancet with Cost of Constipation Report

E4H is celebrating the success of the Bowel Interest Group’s Cost of Constipation 2019 report and its feature in November’s The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology. The agency worked with Bowel Interest Group Board Members to produce the report providing research, writing, creative and project management support.

In July, independent multidisciplinary organisation, The Bowel Interest Group released its ‘Cost of Constipation’ report revealing the impact that the taboo subject of constipation has on the UK. The report not only explores the significant cost of constipation to the NHS but highlights the damaging impact on patient lives.

It shows that poor bowel health and chronic constipation, which are debilitating for hundreds and thousands of people in the UK, cost the NHS a preventable £71 million in unplanned hospital admissions for constipation in 2017/18. This cost is likely to be much higher when GP visits, home visits and over the counter laxatives are taken into account. Specifically, the report shows that:

  • In 2017/18, 71,430 people with constipation were admitted to hospital in England. This is equivalent to 196 per day.
  • Close to three quarters of these were unplanned emergency admissions, equivalent to 144 per day.
  • £91 million was spent on prescription laxatives in 2017/18.
  • The cost of treating constipation in 2017/18 is equivalent to funding 7043 newly-qualified nurses for a year.
  • On average, 6.3 people visit a GP about constipation each week.

The Cost of Constipation report also lays bare the embarrassment and distress caused by the condition, revealing that one in five people are embarrassed to talk about constipation with their GP, and some people find themselves unable to leave the house for social activities. In addition to the physical problems that constipation can cause such as haemorrhoids, chronic pain and urinary tract infections, the report highlights the high incidence of anxiety disorders and depression in people with constipation.

The editorial, published in the November issue of The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, discusses the issues raised by the Cost of Constipation Report, stating: “Although the financial figures presented in the Bowel Interest Group report are startling, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the true cost of constipation is borne by the patients who experience it. There is often a perception that constipation might resolve of its own accord or that it can easily be treated, but this is not necessarily the case. The burden carried by these patients will not ease unless stigma and embarrassment are tackled in parallel with efforts to change perceptions of constipation and its treatment. With greater openness and awareness, symptoms can be addressed at an earlier stage, reducing the costs of constipation—not only financial, but also in terms of quality of life.”

Dr Benjamin Disney, Consultant Gastroenterologist, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, comments: “Many people see constipation as a simple, straightforward, easily treated condition that does not greatly affect people. However, from the Cost of Constipation report and my clinical experience, this is often not the case, with the condition being under-reported and often poorly managed, leading to a significant cost to the NHS and having a negative impact on patients’ overall health and quality of life. The Bowel Interest Group aims to tackle and raise awareness of the important issue of constipation.”

Patients, clinicians and other interested parties may download the full report free of charge by visiting:

If you’d like E4H to help you produce thought-provoking reports, get in touch today.