METHODS: A survey of 1000 patients and accompanying relatives, visiting general surgical and obstetrics and gynaecology clinics for matters unrelated to FI, was conducted at University Malaya Medical Centre between January 2009 and February 2010. A follow-up regression analysis of the 83 patients who had FI, to identify factors associated with health-seeking behaviour, was performed. Variables identified through univariate analysis were subjected to multivariate analysis to determine independence. Reasons for not seeking treatment were also analysed.
RESULTS: Only eight patients (9.6%) had sought medical treatment. On univariate analysis, the likelihood of seeking treatment was significantly higher among patients who had more severe symptoms (OR 30.0, p=0.002), had incontinence to liquid stool (OR 3.83, p=0.002) or when there was an alteration to lifestyle (OR: 17.34; p<0.001). Nevertheless, the only independently-associated variable was alteration in lifestyle. Common reasons given for not seeking treatment was that the condition did not affect patients' daily activities (88.0%), "social taboo" (5.3%) and "other" reasons (6.7%).
CONCLUSIONS: Lifestyle alteration is the main driver of healthseeking behaviour in FI. However, the majority do not seek treatment. Greater public and physician-awareness on FI and available treatment options is needed.