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Open Access Research article

Appointment waiting times and education level influence the quality of bowel preparation in adult patients undergoing colonoscopy

Wah-Kheong Chan*, Arjunan Saravanan, Jeeta Manikam, Khean-Lee Goh and Sanjiv Mahadeva

Author Affiliations

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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BMC Gastroenterology 2011, 11:86  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-11-86

Published: 28 July 2011



Risk factors for poor bowel preparation are recognized to be independent of the type of bowel preparation method used. Patient and administrative factors influencing bowel preparation are known to vary in different healthcare systems.


A prospective, cross-sectional study of patients undergoing colonoscopy in an Asian tertiary centre was conducted to identify risk factors associated with poor bowel preparation, and to evaluate the impact of poor bowel preparation on technical performance and patient comfort.


Data on 501 patients (mean age 60.1 ± 14.0 years old, 51.2% males, 60.9% with secondary education or higher) was available for analysis. Poor bowel preparation was present in 151 patients (30.1%). Lower education level (OR = 2.35, 95% CI = 1.54 - 3.60), colonoscopy appointment waiting time beyond 16 weeks (OR = 1.86, 95% CI = 1.04 - 3.37) and non-adherence to bowel preparation instructions (OR = 4.76, 95% CI = 3.00 - 7.55) were identified as independent risk factors for poor bowel preparation. Poor bowel preparation was associated with a lower cecal intubation rate (78.1% versus 98.3%, p < 0.001), prolonged total colonoscopy time (25.4 ± 12.6 minutes versus 16.7 ± 10.2 minutes, p < 0.001), and increased patient discomfort during colonoscopy (patient with moderate to severe abdominal discomfort 31.8% versus 3.2%, p < 0.001).


Education levels and appointment waiting times, in addition to non-adherence to bowel preparation instructions, increase the risk of poor bowel preparation in adult patients undergoing colonoscopy. The latter has a significant impact on colonoscopy performance and patient comfort.