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Type: Journal article
Title: Understanding what impacts on disclosing anal incontinence for women when comparing bowel-screening tools: a phenomenological study
Author: Tucker, J.
Murphy, E.M.A.
Steen, M.
Clifton, V.L.
Citation: BMC Women's Health, 2019; 19(1):142-1-142-8
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 1472-6874
Statement of
Julie Tucker, Elizabeth Mary Ann Murphy, Mary Steen and Vicki L. Clifton
Abstract: BACKGROUND:There is limited research defining the true prevalence of anal incontinence (AI) in women of childbearing age. Understanding the limitations of the current assessment tools in the identification of AI is paramount for identifying the prevalence of AI and improving the care and management for women of childbearing age. The aim of this research was to explore and develop an understanding of women's experiences in disclosing AI when completing a new bowel-screening questionnaire when compared to two established AI tools. METHODS:A phenomenological qualitative research study was undertaken in a maternity setting in a large tertiary hospital. Parous women in the first trimester of a subsequent pregnancy were recruited to complete a specifically designed screening tool (BSQ), St Marks Faecal incontinence score (Vaizey) and Cleveland (Wexner) score. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were utilised to identify experiences in disclosing AI. RESULTS:Women (n = 16, 22-42 years) with a history of anal incontinence either following the first birth (n = 12) or the second (n = 4) provided differing responses between the three assessment tools. All women answered the BSQ while the Vaizey and Wexner scores were more difficult to complete due to clinical language and participants level of comprehension. Women identified three major themes that were barriers for disclosing incontinence, which included social expectations, trusted space and confusion. CONCLUSION:There are barriers for disclosing AI in the pregnant and post-natal population, which can be improved with the use of an easy assessment tool. The BSQ may facilitate discussion on AI between the patient and health professional leading to earlier identification and improvement in short and long-term health outcomes.
Keywords: Anal
Rights: © The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
DOI: 10.1186/s12905-019-0840-0
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Obstetrics and Gynaecology publications

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