Psychosocial co-morbidity affects treatment outcome in children with fecal incontinence
Fecal incontinence is a common disorder in children. Many children with fecal incontinence have psychosocial co-morbidity. In this study, the effect of psychosocial co-morbidity on the treatment outcome of children with fecal incontinence was evaluated. One hundred and fifty children with fecal incontinence were treated in a multidisciplinary program. All children had been treated unsuccessfully for at least one year before entering the program. The treatment consisted of laxative treatment, psychosocial interventions, and biofeedback training. Psychosocial co-morbidity was classified according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV). One hundred and forty-one children were completely analyzed (102 boys, mean age 9.6 (range 6.5-16.5) years). Of these, 31 (22%) children had fecal incontinence without constipation and 110 (78%) children had fecal incontinence associated with constipation. In 95% of children, at least one psychosocial co-morbidity was present. Treatment was successful at 12 months in 69% of patients. Treatment was less successful in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), in children with parent-child relational problems, and in mentally retarded children. The results indicate that the early assessment and treatment of psychosocial co-morbidity might improve treatment response in children with fecal incontinence. Children with fecal incontinence are treated less successfully in the first year if they have ADHD, parent-child relational problems, or mental retardation. Psychosocial evaluation and the early assessment and treatment of psychosocial co-morbidity is indicated in order to improve response rate. Family counseling-aimed at improving parent-child relations-should be an integral part of a multidisciplinary treatment program for fecal incontinence.