Assessment and management of constipation in adults

CPD hours:

Those involved in nursing care are essential in the assessment, planning and implementation of treatment plans aimed at preventing and/or treating constipation in health care settings. Constipation can affect a wide range of people and is a particular concern for older adults, those with reduced mobility and those taking medications that may cause constipation.

This module discusses the management of constipation in adults. It begins with an understanding of related anatomy and physiology, and refreshes knowledge on patient assessment, interpretation of findings and relevant interventions. It explains the uses and steps of a digital rectal examination, an advanced nursing procedure relevant to the assessment and management of constipation.

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At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • To understand the anatomy and physiology of the gastrointestinal system, including gastric motility and defaecation.
  • Identify the signs and symptoms of constipation.
  • Be aware of some of the causes of constipation in the adult population.
  • Understand the treatment of uncomplicated constipation including dietary fibre intake, hydration and laxatives, if required.
  • Refresh your knowledge of a complete abdominal and rectal examination, including a digital rectal examination, if required.
  • Understand the potentially severe complications of acute and chronic constipation.
  • Know the common risk factors for older people and constipation.

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

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