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Persistence of Noncancer-related Musculoskeletal Chronic Pain Among Community-dwelling Older People

A Population-based Longitudinal Study in Finland

Karttunen, Niina M. MSc (Pharm)*,†; Turunen, Juha H. O. PhD (Pharm); Ahonen, Riitta S. PhD§; Hartikainen, Sirpa A. PhD*,†

doi: 10.1097/AJP.0000000000000089
Original Articles

Objective: To determine the persistence of chronic pain among community-dwelling older persons and to identify factors related to persistent chronic pain.

Methods: In this prospective longitudinal study, a random sample of Finnish community-dwelling people aged 76 years and older (n=256) were interviewed annually by a trained nurse at 3 time points. Data on prevalence, duration, location, and intensity of musculoskeletal pain, analgesic use, demographics, and health characteristics were collected during the interviews.

Results: Chronic pain was reported by 48.9% of the participants at baseline, with 74.4% of them experiencing persistent chronic pain, that is, they reported chronic pain at all 3 study points. Persistent chronic pain was associated with poor self-rated health (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=2.26, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.03-4.98), mobility difficulties (AOR=2.80, 95% CI, 1.22-6.43), and arthrosis or rheumatoid arthritis (AOR=3.07, 95% CI, 1.47-6.42) when compared with persons without chronic pain. However, only 15% of the persons with persistent chronic pain were using analgesics on a regular basis, and one out of every 5 was not taking any analgesics.

Conclusions: Chronic musculoskeletal pain is a highly persistent condition among community-dwelling older persons and it is related to poor health and mobility difficulties. In addition, the use of daily analgesic is low despite the continuous nature of chronic pain.

*Kuopio Research Centre of Geriatric Care

Clinical Pharmacology and Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Unit, School of Pharmacy

§Social Pharmacy Unit, School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio

Farenta Oy, Vantaa, Finland

The Geriatric Multidisciplinary Strategy for the Good Care of the Elderly (GeMS) Study was supported by grants from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland and the City of Kuopio, and this particular research project was supported financially by the Finnish Concordia Fund. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Juha H. O. Turunen, PhD, Farenta Oy, Äyritie 16, Vantaa FIN-01510, Finland (e-mail:

Received September 13, 2012

Received in revised form March 13, 2014

Accepted February 15, 2014

© 2015 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins