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Multisite pain, pain frequency and pain severity are associated with depression in older adults: results from the ActiFE Ulm study

23 Jun 2014

Background: there is ample literature showing pain and depression are related. However, different dimensions of pain have been used in former studies.

Objective: the objective of the study was to compare the strength of the association of different pain dimensions with depression in older adults.

Methods: assessments including evaluation of pain (severity, frequency, chronicity, quality, pain medication, painful body sites) and depression (measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) were performed in an observational study in community dwelling older adults (sample mean age 76, n = 1130) in Germany. The associations of different dimension of pain with depression were assessed using descriptive and multivariate methods.

Results: the number of painful body areas was most significantly associated with self-reported late life depression (OR 1.20, CI 1.11–1.31). Pain severity and frequency (OR 1.12, CI 1.01–1.23 and OR 1.18, CI 1.01–1.37) were also associated with depression; quality and duration were not. Except for severity (OR 1.12, CI 1.02–1.24) associations of pain dimensions were strongly reduced when controlling for relevant confounders and gender was an effect modifier.

Conclusions: multisite pain, pain severity and frequency were the best predictors of late life depression. Clinicians should be especially aware of depressive disorders when older patients are complaining of pain in multiple areas across the body.

23 June 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Age and Ageing