Patients with chronic idiopathic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation experience an array of gastrointestinal symptoms. Given the subjective nature of these disorders, patient self-reporting is critical to diagnosis and monitoring response to therapy. Unfortunately, many patients are reluctant to discuss bowel symptoms with their healthcare providers. Differences in sex, health literacy, and age can influence symptom reporting. Negative patient-physician relationships and dissatisfaction with care lead patients to seek alternative treatments, switch healthcare providers, or discontinue care. Thus, adopting a patient-centered communication style can help create a shared understanding of patients' symptoms, achieve accurate symptom reporting, expedite diagnosis, and facilitate appropriate treatment plans. Currently, there are multiple symptom and quality-of-life scales available to assist healthcare providers in this endeavor. These scales also allow for the monitoring of constipation-related symptoms and symptom severity. When using patient self-assessments to measure treatment responses, scale selection may depend on the number of symptoms being assessed, the duration and frequency of assessments, and patients' comprehension and language skills.
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