Touching Lives - September 2003
Successful results from stroke project
Such bowel problems dramatically impact on the quality of life of both patients and carers and are a major factor in referral for long-term care in nursing homes.
Thanks to funding from Action Medical Research, the first rigorous trial has taken place to compare a structured programme of assessing and treating bowel problems in stroke patients with routine care. The £67,000 study was based at St Thomas’ Hospital in London in conjunction with King’s College Hospital, London and Orpington Hospital in Kent, and was headed by Dr Danielle Harari.
Dr Harari said: “We predict that our research will change practice both in the way bowel problems are managed in people with stroke, and in the way we provide health education and promote self-management in older people with long-term disabilities. ^Action Medical Research is to be thanked for having the foresight to support this type of research^, where the aim is to find strong scientific support for good clinical practice in vulnerable patients.”
The treatment programme consisted of a single meeting with a nurse who assessed the patient clinically, recommended bowel medicine and pelvic muscle strengthening treatment where needed, and educated the patient and carer regarding lifestyle habits that relate to the bowel (diet, fluid intake, exercise, toilet habits) with provision of a booklet.
The results of the trial showed that even up to six months later, these patients clearly benefited in terms of bowel habit being restored to ‘normal’ in comparison with a similar group of patients receiving usual care only. Treatment patients were much more likely to alter their diet and fluid intake to control their bowel problem even up to 12 months after receiving the educational booklet.
Free copies of the booklet can be obtained by contacting Action Medical Research.