Pain and the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia Spectrum in Community-Dwelling Older Americans: A Nationally Representative Study

Jinjiao Wang, Zijing Cheng, Yeunkyung Kim, Fang Yu, Kathi L. Heffner, Maria M. Quiñones-Cordero, Yue Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context: Pain is a significant concern among older adults with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). Objectives: Examine the association between cognitive impairment across the ADRD spectrum and pain assessment and treatment in community-dwelling older Americans. Methods: This cross-sectional, population-based study included 16,836 community-dwelling participants ≥ 50 years in the 2018 Health and Retirement Study. ADRD, assessed by validated cognitive measures, was categorized into “dementia,” “cognitive impairment, no dementia (CIND)” and “intact cognition.” Pain assessment included pain presence (often being troubled with pain), pain severity (degree of pain most of the time [mild/moderate/severe]), and pain interference (pain making it difficult to do usual activities). Pain treatment included recent use of over-the-counter pain medications and opioids (past 3 months), and regular intake of prescriptions for pain. Results: Dementia were associated with lower likelihood of reporting pain presence (Odds Ratio [OR]= 0.61, P = 0.01), pain interference (OR = 0.46, P < 0.001), reporting lower pain severity (e.g., moderate vs. no: Relative Risk Ratio = 0.38, P < 0.001), and lower likelihood of receiving pain treatment, that is, recent use of over-the-counter pain medications (OR = 0.60, P = 0.02) and opioids (OR = 0.33, P < 0.001), and regular intake of prescriptions for pain (OR = 0.461, P = 0.002). CIND was associated with reporting lower pain severity (e.g., moderate vs. no: Relative Risk Ratio = 0.75, P = 0.021), lower likelihood of reporting pain interference (OR = 0.79, P = 0.045) and recent over-the-counter pain medication use (OR = 0.74, P = 0.026). Conclusion: CIND and dementia increased the risk of under-report and under-treatment of pain. Systematic efforts are needed to improve pain recognition and treatment among older adults with cognitive impairment, regardless of dementia diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-664
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Volume63
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease and related dementias
  • dementia
  • health and retirement survey
  • pain
  • pain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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