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J Gerontol. 1991 Jan;46(1):P15-21.

The relation of pain to depression among institutionalized aged.

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Clinical Research Center, Philadelphia Geriatric Center, PA 19141.


Nursing home and congregate apartment residents (N = 598) were classified on the basis of a DSM-IIIR symptom checklist as suffering possible major, minor, or no depression; they also completed the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS). Possible major depressives reported more intense pain and a greater number of localized pain complaints than did minor depressives; nondepressed individuals reported the least intense pain and fewest localized complaints. The effect remained strong even when functional disability and health status were controlled statistically. Both pain intensity and number of localized complaints were correlated with GDS and POMS factor scores, but strength and direction of associations varied with level of depression. Item-by-item examination of localized complaints again indicated that more depressed individuals were more likely to report pain, particularly where physicians had identified a physical problem that might account for the pain. Results are compared with previous research on pain among younger individuals. Implications for treatment of depressed elderly are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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