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How accurate is the recall of bowel habits in children with defaecation disorders ?

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The aim was to assess in children with defaecation disorders, the accuracy of recalled information as provided by the child and/or parents compared to diary information and to evaluate its effect on diagnostic grouping. In this prospective study, recalled information, obtained initially by a telephone interview, was compared with recorded information provided by a 4-week diary. Recalled and recorded data were compared using Kappa indices. Subsequently, children were assigned to three diagnostic groups: constipation, solitary encopresis and a rest group. Based on these diagnoses, the first two groups were allocated for laxative treatment. Analysis of recalled and recorded data was performed in 46 children (5–14 years). Most defaecation parameters showed fair agreement, only limited agreement occurred for frequency of soiling episodes. Identical clinical groups using the two methods were obtained in 63% of the children. Particularly, the assessment of large amounts of stool and the number of soiling episodes were responsible for the shift in the diagnostic groups. A total of 83% children were correctly allocated for treatment using recalled data.

Conclusion Recalled data can accurately be used in a daily clinical setting but special attention is necessary for soiling episodes and the size of stool.

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Received: 26 February 1996 / Accepted: 12 October 1994

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van der Plas, R., Benninga, M., Redekop, W. et al. How accurate is the recall of bowel habits in children with defaecation disorders ?. Eur J Pediatr 156, 178–181 (1997).

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