Open Access Open Badges Research article

Prevalence of faecal incontinence and its related factors among patients in a Malaysian academic setting

April C Roslani1*, Rajeshwary Ramakrishnan1, Soraya Azmi23, Daryl J Arapoc3 and Adrian Goh23

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, University of Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Azmi Burhani Consulting Sdn Bhd, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

3 Veras Research Sdn Bhd, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

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BMC Gastroenterology 2014, 14:95  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-95

Published: 18 May 2014



Prevalence data is essential for planning of healthcare services. The prevalence of faecal incontinence (FI) varies worldwide, and in Malaysia is not known. We sought to estimate its prevalence among patients with various conditions in a Malaysian academic setting.


A questionnaire-based survey was conducted among a convenience sample of adult patients and relatives who visited the Obstetrics and Gynaecology and General Surgery Clinics of University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) from June 2009 to February 2010. Data collected included patient demographics and pre-existing medical conditions known to be FI risk factors. Severity of FI was assessed using the Wexner Continence Scale (WCS).


Among the 1000 subjects recruited into the study, 760 (76%) were female and the median age was 38 years with an inter-quartile range of 24 years. The prevalence of FI among the study subjects was found to be 8.3%. Among them, 63 subjects (75.9%) were determined to have mild FI as measured by the WCS. The proportions of patients with moderate and severe FI were 18.3% and 6.0%, respectively. FI was found to be significantly associated with older age, presence of diabetes mellitus and increased duration of defaecation. There was no statistically significant association between FI and sex, defaecation frequency, or history of surgery.


FI in our setting is prevalent enough to warrant targeted healthcare interventions, including the need to improve general public awareness of the condition in order to counter social stigma and embarrassment that may be faced by patients.

Faecal incontinence; Prevalence; Sphincter defects; Soiling; Constipation