Hamish Jamieson, Marie Crowe, Cate McCall, Jennifer Jordan, Christopher Frampton, Deborah Gillon
To examine the relationship of the pain severity scores with demographic variables (age, gender, and ethnicity) and with the frequency of falls, fatigue, and depression in a very large New Zealand sample of people over 65 years assessed using the Home Care International Residential Assessment Instrument.
Pain is reported to be highly prevalent in older people yet it is poorly correlated with tissue damage. There is convincing evidence that it is related to depression and some evidence of its relationship with fatigue and falls.
This is a cross-sectional study examining a national cohort assessed on referral for a needs assessment for access to publicly funded service provision or support.
Participants were 45,418 adults aged over 65 years referred for a mandatory needs assessment between 2012–2014. All variables analysed were drawn from the Home Care International Residential Assessment Instrument. Univariate descriptive statistics were used to characterize the sample in relation to the association of severe pain with age, gender, and ethnicity and with the key variables of interest: falls, fatigue, and depression. Logistic regression models were used to examine the relationship of the presence or not of severe pain with the other key health-related variables: falls, fatigue, and depression, respectively, after controlling for the presence of age, gender, and ethnicity. Odds ratios are reported to quantify the difference in risk with increasing severity of falls, fatigue, and depression.
The mean age of the cohort was 82.48 years (SD 7.48) and 48.5% of the sample reported experiencing daily pain. The rates of severe daily pain were 12%–18% with those in the 65–74 years group having the highest reported rate of severe pain (18%) and a gradual decrease in severe pain with age. After co-varying for age, ethnicity, and gender, the presence of severe daily pain was predicted by increasing frequency of falls and fatigue and having current depression. While two-thirds reported their pain control was adequate, a third reported that their pain control was not adequate despite adhering to a therapeutic regime.
The study highlights how pervasive pain is in this group and its correlation with falls, fatigue, and depression. While the effect sizes were relatively small the results may be clinically significant and it may be clinically important that the presence of pain in older people could indicate the need for further nursing assessment in relation to falls, fatigue, and depression.