Background: Constipation is often self-managed by patients and guidelines are available to aid healthcare professionals in the counseling of patients for self-management. Therefore, we have explored the knowledge and attitude of pharmacy personnel towards guidelines for the management of acute and functional chronic constipation and how they affects their recommendations.
Methods: An online survey was conducted among 201 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from an existing panel. They were presented with two typical cases, a 62-year old woman with functional chronic constipation and a 42-year old woman with travel plans. For each case, they were asked about their treatment recommendations and the underlying rationale. Thereafter, they were provided with contents from an applicable national guideline and asked again about their recommendations and the underlying rationale. In line with the exploratory nature, data were analyzed in a descriptive manner only.
Results: Before exposure to guideline content, the most frequent recommendations for chronic constipation were macrogol, fiber and lactulose and for acute constipation sodium picosulfate, bisacodyl and enemas. Following guideline exposure, the most frequent recommendations for chronic constipation were macrogol, bisacodyl and sodium picosulfate and for acute constipation bisacodyl, sodium picosulfate and macrogol (all three equally recommended by the guideline for the management of acute and chronic constipation). Correspondingly, the rationale behind the recommendations shifted with guideline conformity becoming a leading reason.
Conclusions: Awareness of the content of an applicable guideline on the management of constipation was poor among pharmacy personnel. Accordingly, recommendations in many cases were not in line with the guideline. Greater awareness of guideline content is desirable to enable more evidence-based recommendations in the management of constipation.