Chronic Pain and Attention in Older Community-Dwelling Adults

Guusje van der Leeuw, Suzanne G. Leveille, Zhiyong Dong, Ling Shi, Daniel Habtemariam, William Milberg, Jeffrey M. Hausdorff, Laura Grande, Peggy Gagnon, Robert R. McLean, Jonathan F. Bean

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OBJECTIVES: To examine the cross-sectional relationship between chronic pain and complex attention in a population of community-living older adults. DESIGN: Prospective cross-sectional cohort study. SETTING: Population-based Maintenance of Balance, Independent Living, Intellect, and Zest in the Elderly of Boston Study II. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals aged 71 to 101 (N=354). MEASUREMENTS: Chronic pain was measured using the pain severity and interference subscales of the Brief Pain Inventory. Four subscales of the Test of Everyday Attention were used to measure domains of attention switching and selective, sustained, and divided attention. RESULTS: Before and after multivariable adjustment, pain severity was associated with poorer scores on measures of selective and sustained attention. Pain interference scores also were significantly inversely associated with selective attention. CONCLUSION: Chronic pain is associated with poorer performance in selective and sustained attention in community-dwelling older adults. Further research is needed to determine whether effective pain management could lead to better attentional performance in older adults. Older adults who live with chronic pain, often undertreated, are potentially at risk of cognitive difficulties and related functional consequences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1318-1324
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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