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Bowel urgency (BU), the sudden or immediate need for a bowel movement, is one of the most common and disruptive symptoms experienced by patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). Distinct from the separate symptom of increased stool frequency, BU has a substantial negative impact on quality of life and psychosocial functioning. Among patients with UC, BU is one of the top reasons for treatment dissatisfaction and one of the symptoms patients most want improved. Patients may not discuss BU often due to embarrassment, and healthcare providers may not address the symptom adequately due to the lack of awareness of validated tools and/or knowledge of the importance of assessing BU. The mechanism of BU in UC is multifactorial and includes inflammatory changes in the rectum that may be linked to hypersensitivity and reduced compliance of the rectum. Responsive and reliable patient-reported outcome measures of BU are needed to provide evidence of treatment benefits in clinical trials and facilitate communication in clinical practice. This review discusses the pathophysiology and clinical importance of BU in UC and its impact on the quality of life and psychosocial functioning. Patient-reported outcome measures developed to assess the severity of BU in UC are discussed alongside overviews of treatment options and clinical guidelines. Implications for the future management of UC from the perspective of BU are also explored.

Original publication




Journal article


The American journal of gastroenterology

Publication Date



Susan and Leonard Feinstein Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Icahn School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA.