Scand J Public Health
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden; Lund University, Lund, Sweden; Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Pain is common in the elderly population and its prevalence varies according to the studied disease, clinical setting, sex and age. This study examines pain in an aging population from a gender perspective.
METHODS: The Swedish National study on Aging and Care (SNAC) is conducted at four research centres. Participants were recruited from the baseline sample (n=1402) at one of the research centres, SNAC-Blekinge. Individuals aged 60 years and older were included and non-participation was documented. Research personnel conducted the medical examination on two occasions.
RESULTS: The prevalence of pain was 769/1402 (54.8%), distributed as 496/817 (64.5%) women and 273/585 (35.5%) men, p=0.01. Women reported more pain located in the vertebral column, p=0.01. The most common pain location was the legs and feet. About 4% reported pain intensity as 4 or higher on the visual analogue scale (VAS). Pain intensity declines with age among men, p=0.01. The most frequent treatment was painkillers. A total of 128/263 (48.7%) of the men received no pain treatment compared with 177/478 (37.0%) of the women, p<0.01. In a multivariate logistic regression model, women yielded the highest OR [OR 1.94 (C.I. 1.51-2.49)] for pain.
CONCLUSIONS: Pain is common among older adults and there are significant differences between the sexes. Almost 55% of participants reported pain, predominantly women. In the majority of cases the intensity was rated as moderate or severe (VAS >4) and women rated higher than men p<0.02. Almost half of the men (48.7%) did not receive any treatment compared to 37% of the women, p=0.01.
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