Bowel Incontinence

Definition: Change in normal bowel habits characterized by involuntary passage of stool


  • Self-care deficit—toileting; impaired cognition; immobility; environmental factors (e.g.,inaccessible bathroom)
  • Dietary habits; medications; laxative abuse
  • Stress
  • Colorectal lesions
  • Incomplete emptying of bowel; impaction; chronic diarrhea
  • General decline in muscle tone; abnormally high abdominal or intestinal pressure
  • Impaired reservoir capacity
  • Rectal sphinc



  • Recognizes rectal fullness but reports inability to expel formed stool
  • Urgency
  • Inability to delay defecation
  • other on the book


  • Constant dribbling of soft stool
  • Fecal staining of clothing and/or bedding
  • Fecal odor
  • other on the book..

SAMPLE CLINICAL APPLICATIONS: hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, anal/gynecological surgery, childbirth injuries/uterine prolapse, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, dementia.


Sample NIC linkages:

  • Bowel Incontinence Care: Promotion of bowel continence and maintenance of perineal skin integrity
  • Bowel Incontinence Care: Encopresis: Promotion of bowel continence in children
  • Bowel Training: Assisting the patient to train the bowel to evacuate at specific intervals

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