The British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) has published the 3rd edition of Guidelines for the investigation of chronic diarrhoea in adults, covering the following areas:

  • primary clinical assessment
  • cancer or inflammation
  • secondary clinical assessment
  • common disorders
  • malabsorption
  • surgical and structural disorders
  • rare causes.

Chronic diarrhoea is one of the most common reasons for referral to a gastroenterology clinic, with an estimated prevalence in western populations of 4–5% but it is more common in older people.

The initial assessment of patients with chronic diarrhoea can mostly be done in primary care, where careful history taking and examination is essential.