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J Soc Work End Life Palliat Care. 2014;10(1):8-33. doi: 10.1080/15524256.2013.877861.

Relationship between pain and chronic illness among seriously ill older adults: expanding role for palliative social work.

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a Global Healthcare Innovation Management Center , Fordham University Graduate School of Business Administration , West Harrison , New York , USA.


Confronting the issue of pain among chronically ill older adults merits serious attention in light of mounting evidence that pain in this population is often undertreated or not treated at all (Institute of Medicine, 2011 ). The relationship between pain and chronic illness among adults age 50 and over was examined in this study through the use of longitudinal data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration. Findings suggested positive associations between pain and chronic disease, pain and multimorbidity, as well as an inverse association between pain and education. Policy implications for workforce development and public health are many, and amplification of palliative social work roles to relieve pain and suffering among seriously ill older adults at all stages of the chronic illness trajectory is needed.

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