PURPOSE - Fecal incontinence and constipation in children with spina bifida are recognized to impact quality of life. Most disease specific quality of life instruments on fecal incontinence target adults and/or children without neuropathic bowel. We developed an instrument to evaluate bowel function and its impact on quality of life in children with spina bifida and their caregivers.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - A 51-item questionnaire termed the FIC QOL (Fecal Incontinence and Constipation Quality of Life) survey was developed from expert opinion, patient interviews, and modification of previously published adult and pediatric studies for nonneuropathic bowel dysfunction. The items are divided into 7 quality of life factor groupings, including bowel program, dietary management, symptoms, travel and socialization, family relationships, caregiver emotional impact and financial impact. The questionnaire was given to caregivers of children with and without spina bifida. Discriminant validity was evaluated by comparing the spina bifida and control groups. Test-retest reliability was evaluated by having 41 patients complete 2 surveys within 4 to 6 weeks.
RESULTS - Comparing questionnaires from 92 index patients and 52 controls showed a statistically significant difference for all 7 quality of life factor groupings. The FIC QOL instrument objectively demonstrated the negative impact of fecal incontinence and constipation on quality of life in these families. Comparing 82 questionnaires at 2 time points demonstrated the reliability of all FIC QOL questions.
CONCLUSIONS - The FIC QOL instrument provides a valid and reliable measure of the effect of fecal incontinence and constipation on the quality of life of caregivers and their children with spina bifida.