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Medicina (Kaunas). 2014;50(1):61-74. doi: 10.1016/j.medici.2014.05.006. Epub 2014 Jun 6.

The relationship between abuse, psychosocial factors, and pain complaints among older persons in Europe.

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Department of Health Sciences, Section of Public Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden.
Department of Health Sciences, Section of Public Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden. Electronic address:
Department of Health Management, Medical Academy, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania.
Department of Psychology, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden.
Scientific Technological Area, Socio Economic Research Centre, Italian National Institute of Health and Science on Aging, I.N.R.C.A., Ancona, Italy.
Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Porto, Medical School, Porto, Portugal.
Department of Public Health Science, Protestant University of Applied Sciences, Ludwigsburg, Germany.
Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM), University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
Department of Sociology, National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece.



Abuse and pain complaints are common among older persons. However, little is known about relationships between abuse (e.g. psychological) and pain complaints (e.g. backache) among older persons while considering other factors (e.g. depression). Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine these relationships.


The design was cross-sectional. A total of 4467 women and men aged 60-84 years from Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden answered questionnaires regarding various areas such as abuse, mental health (e.g. anxiety) and pain complaints (e.g. backache). The data were examined with bivariate (analyses of variance) and multivariate methods (linear regressions).


The bivariate analyses showed that psychological abuse was connected with all pain complaints; physical with headache and head pressure; sexual with neck or shoulder pain and headache; injury with all complaints (except pain in joints or limbs); financial with pain in joints or limbs and head pressure; and overall abuse (one or more types) with all complaints (except headache). The regressions showed that psychological abuse increased the likelihood of being affected by head pressure and heaviness or tiredness in the legs; physical abuse of being affected by headache and head pressure; financial abuse of being affected by head pressure; and overall abuse of being affected by headache and head pressure. In general, respondents from Sweden and younger (60-64 years) were less affected by the complaints than those from other countries (e.g. Germany) and older (e.g. 70-74 years), respectively. Respondents on medication (e.g. pain killers) were less affected by all pain complaints and those with high social support by pain in joints or limbs. High scores on anxiety and depression and having many diseases increased the likelihood of being affect by all pain complaints.


Abuse was related with certain pain complaints (e.g. headache), but other factors and in particular mental health and physical diseases impacted on all pain complaints. Medication and partly social support had a positive effect on the pain experience, i.e. the complaints interfered less with for instance the daily-life of the respondents.


Abuse; Europe; Mental health; Older persons; Pain complaints

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