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BMC Geriatr. 2019 May 27;19(1):147. doi: 10.1186/s12877-019-1164-5.

Pain and symptoms of depression: international comparative study on selected factors affecting the quality of life of elderly people residing in institutions in Europe.

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Gerontology Unit, Public Health Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, Wrocław Medical University, Poland 5 Bartel St, 50-618, Wrocław, Poland.
Department of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Poznań University of Health Sciences, Poland 6 Święcicki St, 60-781, Poznań, Poland.
Karkonosze College in Jelenia Góra KPSW, 18 Lwówiecka St, 58-503, Jelenia Góra, Poland.
Gerontology Unit, Public Health Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, Wrocław Medical University, Poland 5 Bartel St, 50-618, Wrocław, Poland.



As the number of elderly people is on the rise in societies throughout the world, providing them with optimal care is becoming a major demand, especially in the context of rising interest in institutional care. Quality of life is multidimensional notion and its perception depends highly on pain and mood levels. The aim of this study was to perform a comparative analysis of pain and depression symptoms in elderly people living in nursing homes in France, Germany, and Poland.


The research carried out in years 2014-2016 involved female residents of nursing homes in France, Germany, and Poland: 190 women from each country, aged over 65 years and not previously diagnosed with advanced dementia, were included. Collection of medical, demographic, and anthropomorphic data from medical documentation was followed by interviews with each senior and her caregiver. A questionnaire of authors' own devising was used, along with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the scale of Behavioral Pain Assessment in the Elderly (DOLOPLUS). The results were subjected to statistical analysis, p < 0.05 was accepted as threshold of statistical significance.


The main health complaints of nursing homes' residents were constipation, diarrhea, back pain and dizziness. 44,38% of the residents self-assessed their health status as bad and complained of suffering pain (83,33%) and sleeping problems (72,98%) within the last month. According to BDI the average score was 17.01 points and 44,38% of seniors were free from depression or depressed mood. The average DOLOPLUS result was 8.86 points.


There are no significant differences, neither in prevalence of pain and symptoms of depression nor in average levels of quality of life, in elderly residents in institutions in the three studied European countries. The decrease in quality of life is mainly due to various complaints and pain and there is a close relationship between health status and quality of life. Further research should be performed in order to study interdependencies between the occurrence of pain and depression, including primary reasons leading to both phenomena. The recognition of factors that induce pain complaints and mood depression in elderly people will contribute to improving their comfort.


Depression; Gerontology; Institutional care; Pain; Quality of life

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