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Pooing on the clock: links between place of work and gut health

Your place of work might be affecting your gut health, causing issues like diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome.

Now, Australian researchers want to explore those ties across all spectrums of work.

Lead researcher Dr Phillip Tully, from the University of Adelaide, said teaching is one profession that highlights the issue.

“Work in school settings offers insights into the impact of restrictions to toilets to voiding patterns, with teachers and students reporting various strategies (e.g. limiting food and water intake) to mitigate the need to go to the toilet,” Tully said.

He added that the facilities on offer might be partly to blame.

“The ratio of toilets to users has also been identified as a factor in toilet use among students and workers, potentially linked to perceptions of uncleanliness and privacy,” he explained.

University of New England psychologist Dr Suzie Cosh said the study wants to better understand the effects of the workplace and working conditions on gut health.

“We hope to learn more about possible associations by investigating work settings, sleep, bowel movements and gastrointestinal symptoms,” Cosh said.

The team hopes to break down the ‘poo taboo’ and 500 people are already on board, but researchers want at least another 700 participants to take part in the survey. The research is open to anyone over the age of 18 and employed but people subjected to toilet restrictions at work, like teachers, are especially encouraged to sign up, as are shift and fly-in fly-out workers.

“The #itspootime research is anonymous, can be completed online – even on the porcelain throne – and takes 20 minutes,” Tully said.

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