The Multidimensional Experience of Noncancer Pain: Does Cognitive Status Matter?

Joseph W. Shega*, Mary Ersek, Keela Herr, Judith A. Paice, Kenneth Rockwood, Debra K. Weiner, William Dale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective. Determine if the multidimensional pain-related experience differs between cognitively intact and impaired older adults.Design. Cross-sectional analysis of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging.Setting. Community-dwelling older adults.Outcome Measures. Pain reports were dichotomized from a 5-point scale into no/very mild vs moderate and greater. Cognition measured by the Modified Mini Mental State Exam (0-100) was dichotomized into cognitively intact (>77) and cognitively impaired (≤77). Five self-rated Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) were dichotomized into no impairment vs any impairment. The Mental Health Inventory consists of five self-rated questions about psychological state and well-being, with scores ranging from 0 to 30; scores >11 indicate depression. Self-rated health was dichotomized into very good/pretty good and not too good/poor/very poor. Additional covariates included demographics and co-morbidities.Results. Of the 5,549 (97.3%) eligible participants, 1,991 (35.9%) reported pain of moderate intensity or greater, and 1,028 (18.5%) were cognitively impaired. Among cognitively impaired participants, moderate or greater pain report was associated with functional impairment odds ratio (OR)=1.74 (1.15, 2.62; P<0.01), depressed mood OR=1.69 (1.18, 2.44; P<0.01), and lower self-rated health OR=2.35 (1.69, 3.30; P<0.01). Among cognitively intact participants, pain report was similarly associated with functional impairment OR=1.40 (1.20,1.63); P<0.01), depressed mood OR=1.88 (1.59,2.23; P<0.01), and lower self-rated health OR=2.34 (1.94,2.82; P<0.01).Conclusions. Pain self-report in both cognitively intact and impaired community-dwelling persons is associated with a similar multidimensional experience. These findings confirm the need for comprehensive evaluation of pain and related outcomes in all older adults, with appropriate pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1680-1687
Number of pages8
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Function
  • Noncancer Pain
  • Older Adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The Multidimensional Experience of Noncancer Pain: Does Cognitive Status Matter?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this