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Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate or Docusate (Calcium or Sodium) for the Prevention or Management of Constipation: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness

Last updated: June 26, 2014
Project Number: RC0561-000
Product Line: Rapid Response
Research Type: Drug
Report Type: Summary with Critical Appraisal
Result type: Report

Question

  1. What is the clinical effectiveness of dioctyl sulfosuccinate or docusate (calcium or sodium) for the prevention or management of constipation?

Key Message

There remains a paucity of good quality evidence to support the use of docusate for the prevention or management of constipation in hospitalized patients or long-term care residents. Docusate appears to be no more effective than placebo for increasing stool frequency or softening stool consistency. Furthermore, it does not appear to lessen symptoms associated with constipation (i.e. abdominal cramps) or affect the perceptions associated with completeness of or difficulties with stool evacuation. More robust, high quality primary studies are required to definitively ascertain the clinical effectiveness of docusate for the prevention and management of constipation, no matter what its cause.