Nursing Assessment and Management of Constipation in the Community Dwelling Elder

Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science



Department or Program Chair

Barbara Ganley, PhD

Thesis Advisor

Barbara Ganley, PhD, RN, HNC


Purpose: To examine home care registered nurses (RNs) perceptions of risk and managing interventions for constipation in community dwelling elders over the age of 65. Design: A quantitative paradigm was used, focusing on a descriptive approach in an effort to allow identification of consistencies/inconsistencies among nursing professionals educational level in assessing and acting on constipation in their patient population whether or not a bowel care protocol was available and used.

Method: Home care RNs were voluntarily surveyed and completed the 21 question Assessment of Constipation in the Community Dwelling Elder Survey Tool (NACCDEST) developed by the researcher. The survey attempted to stratify nurses’ perceptions of then ability to identify and manage risk in elders with constipation. The survey consisted of Likert scale questions and narrative style questions in which nurses gave their own strategies for identifying, ranking, and rating barriers and methods of treatment for constipation.

Findings: All respondents roughly assessed constipation risk using the variables of hydration and mobility. When teaching their patients regarding constipation all talked about to very effective in managing constipation over hydration, increased fiber, and exercise. Perceived barriers to treatment of constipation were patient noncompliance and patients set in their ways.

Conclusion: Out of 30 surveys distributed only 4 were returned, with two of the surveys not completely filled out. The results cannot be generalized to the home care RN population due to the small numbers. No correlations could be drawn between educational level and effectiveness of assessment and management of constipation risk in the elderly population. Nurses were fairly consistent with their assessment and management of risk using the 3 variables of hi-fiber diet. hydration, and mobility.

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