Differences in Pain-related Characteristics Among Younger and Older Veterans Receiving Primary Care
SOURCE: Pain Med. 2002 (Jun); 3 (2): 102–107
M. Carrington Reid, PhD, MD Kimberly T. Crone, PhD John Otis, PhD Robert D. Kerns, PhD
Clinical Epidemiology Unit,
VA Connecticut Healthcare System,
West Haven, Connecticut 06516, USA.
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Furthermore, the vast majority of respondents reported that the pain causing them the most discomfort had been present for years: Over 90% of all respondents reported a pain duration of greater than 6 months, suggesting that chronic (as opposed to acute) pain conditions are more concerning to veterans receiving primary care.
OBJECTIVES: To characterize the nature of pain complaints among younger and older veterans receiving primary care, and to determine whether characteristics of pain vary as a function of age.
METHODS: Primary care patients at a Veterans Affairs medical center were screened for pain prior to a routine office visit, and those who endorsed a concern about pain were given a self-administered questionnaire that inquired about specific characteristics of their pain including site, duration, frequency, and average intensity of the pain.
RESULTS: Over a 7–month period, 1,290 patients were screened; 641 (50%) reported a concern about pain, and of these, 516 (82%) completed the pain survey. Among younger (age <65 years, N = 191) and older (age > or =65 years, N = 325) respondents, the mean number of sites causing pain was similar (3.6 vs 3.3). Back pain was the most frequently reported site of pain causing the most discomfort among younger (vs older) respondents (31.9% vs 17.8%), whereas older (vs younger) respondents most often endorsed leg pain (32.3% vs 19.9%). The mean duration of pain was not significantly different between older and younger (10.7 vs 10.1 years) respondents; but older (vs younger) respondents were more likely to report constant pain (63.7% vs 46.9%). Using a 0 to 10 numeric rating scale, pain intensity scores were higher among younger (vs older) respondents (5.3 vs 4.3). Rates of prescription pain medication use were not significantly different (52.4% vs 48.0%). Compensation for pain-related disability was more common among younger (vs older) respondents (40.4% vs 19.4%).
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