The relationship between pain intensity and severity and depression in older people: exploratory study

Iliffe, Steve; Kharicha, Kalpa; Carmaciu, Claudia; Harari, Danielle; Swift, Cameron; Gillman, Gerhard; Stuck, Andreas E (2009). The relationship between pain intensity and severity and depression in older people: exploratory study. BMC family practice, 10(1), p. 54. London: BioMed Central 10.1186/1471-2296-10-54

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BACKGROUND: Pain and depression are known to be associated in later life, and both have a negative effect on physical performance both separately and in combination. The nature of the relationships between pain intensity and depression in elderly persons experiencing pain is less clear. The objectives of this study were to explore which factors are associated with depressed mood in older people experiencing pain, and to test the hypothesis that older people experiencing pain are at risk of depressed mood according to the severity or frequency of their pain. In addition we explored whether other potentially modifiable factors might increase the risk of depressed mood in these persons. METHODS: The study is a secondary analysis of baseline data for four hundred and six community-dwelling non-disabled people aged 65 and over registered with three group practices in suburban London who had experienced pain in the past 4 weeks. Intensity and frequency of pain was measured using 24 item Geriatric Pain Measure (GPM) and the presence of depressive symptoms using the 5 item Mental Health Inventory. Risk for social isolation was measured using the 6 item Lubben Social Network scale and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) were also measured. RESULTS: Overall 76 (19%) had depressed mood. Pain frequency and severity were not statistically significantly associated with depressed mood in this population. In multivariate analyses, significant predictors of the presence of depressive symptoms were difficulties with basic ADLs (OR 2.8, 95% CI, risk for social isolation (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.8-9.3), and basic education only (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.1-4.4). CONCLUSION: Older people experiencing pain are also likely to experience depression. Among those experiencing pain, social network and functional status seem to be more important predictors of depressive symptoms than the severity of pain. Further studies should evaluate whether improvement of social network and functional status might reduce depressive symptoms in older patients.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Gillmann, Gerhard




BioMed Central




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:10

Last Modified:

08 Jun 2016 10:50

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:




URI: (FactScience: 194884)

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