Encopresis: A guide for Psychiatric Nurses

  • Lyons T. Hardy
    Corresponding Author: Lyons T. Hardy, M.S.N., R.N., 824 N 35th St., Richmond, VA 23223.
    Virginia Treatment Center for Children, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond, VA.
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Published:January 16, 2009DOI:
      Encopresis is an elimination disorder that involves symptoms of fecal incontinence in children. It affects an estimated 1.5% to 7.5% of children ages 6 to 12 and accounts for approximately 3% to 6% of psychiatric referrals. The etiology of encopresis is thought to be related to physiologic problems such as constipation; however, it is also a psychiatric diagnosis and anecdotally may have some association with psychiatric problems. Publications on this association and publications directed toward psychiatric nurses are limited. Encopresis is typically treated with nutritional and medical management along with behavioral modification. Psychiatric nurses working with patients who have encopresis in inpatient settings will have unique concerns and challenges. This article gives an overview of published literature from the past 10 years on the etiology and treatment of encopresis. Specific suggestions for inpatient psychiatric nurses based on published literature and the author's professional experience are provided.
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