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Clinical Journal of Pain:
doi: 10.1097/01.ajp.0000146217.31780.ef
Original Article

Age and the Experience of Chronic Pain: Differences in Health and Quality of Life Among Younger, Middle-Aged, and Older Adults

Rustøen, Tone*§; Wahl, Astrid Klopstad*; Hanestad, Berit Rokne†; Lerdal, Anners‡; Paul, Steven§; Miaskowski, Christine§

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Abstract

Objectives: To describe age differences in chronic pain and to evaluate for differences in demographic and health-related variables among younger (18-39 years), middle-aged (40-59 years), and older adults (60-81 years) who reported chronic pain.

Methods: A total of 4000 Norwegian citizens were mailed a questionnaire that measured pain, quality of life, mood, and demographic and health-related variables.

Results: Of the total sample (n = 1912), 19.2% of the younger age group, 27.5% of the middle-aged group, and 31.2% of the older group reported chronic pain (ie, >3 months duration). A total of 58.9% of the participants in chronic pain reported having a chronic disease, with the most common being musculoskeletal problems, chronic pain disorder, and osteoarthritis. Participants in the older age group reported pain of longer duration and more comorbidities and received pain treatment more often. They had higher total quality of life scores, were more satisfied with their material comforts and social life, and reported better mood. The middle-aged group reported the largest number of pain locations, reported having fibromyalgia more frequently, and reported that the cause of their pain was not known. They were less satisfied with their social life than the older age group. The younger age group reported the highest rates of injury and accidents as the cause of their pain, and almost 43% of this age group was not receiving any treatment of their chronic pain.

Conclusion: This study found that the prevalence rates for chronic pain do vary with age and that the middle-aged group may be a high-risk group of patients with chronic pain.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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