Predictors of Chronic Pain: comparison between older adults with and without life-long cognitive disability
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School of Medicine and Psychology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
School of Rural Medicine, University of New England, Armidale, Australia
Centre for Disability Studies, University of Sydney, Australia
University of Illinois, United States
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A24
Background and Introduction: Chronic pain is a major public health issue globally, adversely affecting quality of life (QoL) of older adults. It constitutes a ‘silent epidemic’ in many countries including Australia. Amongst those with life-long cognitive impairments, are people with intellectual disability (PwID), who experience multiple socioeconomic and health disadvantages. This comparative study aims to examine concurrent underlying social and health factors as predictors of chronic pain in older PwID cohort compared to their normative age peers (i.e, older non-PWID cohort). Methods: Data were derived from cross-sectional surveys on demographic, socioeconomic, health and health-services measures across Australia’s two most populous states – New South Wales and Queensland. The sample included older adults aged 60+ years (PwID, N=391; non-PwID=920). The PwID cohort required face-to-face interviews to mitigate comprehension-limitations that could confound results. Non-PwID cohort completed paper/online survey forms. No observable errors were found in response validity by variation in survey modality. Results: PwID cohort was younger (mean: 65.2y, SD: 4.4y) compared to non-PwID (mean: 71.9y, SD: 7.7y). Chronic pain was reported by both PwID (26.9%) and non-PwID (24.1%) groups. Univariate logistic-regression for both cohorts showed chronic pain to be associated (p < 0.05) with arthritis, gum disease, falls, and sleep-disturbance, whereas cancers (past & current) were not significantly associated. Anxiety, depression, and adverse life-events were also statistically significant. Multivariable regression modelling showed that significant variables (p<0.05) for PwID cohort included arthritis and adverse life-events, whereas for the non-PwID cohort arthritis, falls, adverse life-events, and depression were significant. Conclusions: Despite its relatively younger age-profile, PwID cohort had higher levels of chronic pain. There was also similarity of factors associated with chronic pain in both cohorts. The presentation will highlight importance of better understanding and managing predictors of chronic pain for maintaining or enhancing quality of life of older adults.