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Bowel Control Scale (BWCS)



The BWCS is based on items from the Bowel-Bladder Function Scale (Turnbull et al, 1992) and the Sickness Impact Profile. This five-item instrument provides a brief assessment of bowel control and the extent to which bowel problems have an impact on everyday activities. The BWCS is one of the components of the MSQLI.

Administration Time

Administration time is approximately 2-3 minutes.

Administration Method

The BWCS is a structured, self-report questionnaire that the patient can generally complete with little or no intervention from an interviewer. However, patients with visual or upper extremity impairments may need to have the BWCS administered as an interview. Interviewers should be trained in basic interviewing skills and in the use of this instrument.


The total score for the BWCS is the sum of the scores for the 5 items.

Download the MSQLI: A User’s Manual (PDF)

General Comments

The BWCS is easy to administer and focuses on the basics of bowel control, including both constipation and loss of control. Given the straightforward nature of the items in the scale, the BWCS has high face validity. However, the scale was not designed as a comprehensive assessment of bowel dysfunction.

Psychometric Properties

The BWCS has a Cronbach's alpha of .78. In the original field testing of the MSQLI of which it is a part, the BWCS showed a modest but significant correlation with the Bladder and Bowel item of the Kurtzke Functional Systems and with the Bladder Control Scale.


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