Correlates and consequences of chronic pain in older adults.
Chronic pain is a frequent challenge to older adults' coping skills. Despite the widespread occurrence of chronic geriatric pain, no comprehensive body of literature on this topic exists. Instead, research on chronic pain is scattered across disciplines and is perceived as inaccessible by scientists. We completed a comprehensive review and qualitative analysis of the geriatric chronic pain literature since 1990 and found 314 articles on this topic that reported. North American research. Physical, social, and psychologic variables associated with chronic pain and the elderly were mentioned in just over half (53%) of the articles. However, both psychosocial causes and consequences of chronic pain were understudied. Only 16% of the articles had social variables (gender, race, and age) as their primary interest; 27% focused on psychologic or psychiatric issues, with half including depression as the variable of interest. An analysis of the articles' content suggests that research on chronic pain in later life would be substantially improved if a more structured and comprehensive approach were used that combined the study of psychosocial issues with that of physical pain. Researchers and clinicians with a global understanding of chronic pain might help improve quality of life for older adults.
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