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Pain. 2002 Jan;95(1-2):75-82.

Impact of pain on self-rated health in the community-dwelling older adults.

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  • 1Pain Research Group, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Box 221, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


This study examined the impact of pain on self-rated health status in the community-dwelling older adults using the 1993 public release data of the Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD). AHEAD is a population-based household survey designed to examine the dynamic interactions between health, family, and economic variables among US older adults. Results showed that 33% of the older adults reported frequent pain and 20% reported significant pain resulting in activity limitation. Controlling for clinical health status, socio-demographic characteristics, and access to medical care, logistic regression analyses showed that those who often have pain were more than twice as likely (odds ratio (OR)=2.63; confidence interval (CI)=2.35, 2.95; P=<0.0001) to perceive their health status to be "poor". Other predictors (P<0.01) include functional impairment (OR=2.78), chronic diseases (OR=1.89), minority status (OR=1.88), education (OR=1.77), and physician visits (OR=1.64). This study documents the adverse impact of pain on self-rated health as well as the fact that the experience of pain and poor subjective health and well-being is greatest among the most socially disadvantaged older adults (minorities and those with the least education). The findings suggest that treating and controlling pain may significantly enhance the subjective health and well-being of community-dwelling older adults.

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