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Pain and its relation to cognitive function and depressive symptoms: a Swedish population study of 70-year-old men and women.

Journal article
Authors Ingrid Bergh
Gunilla Steen
Margda Waern
Boo Johansson
Anders Odén
Björn Sjöström
Bertil Steen
Published in Journal of pain and symptom management
Volume 26
Issue 4
Pages 903-12
ISSN 0885-3924
Publication year 2003
Published at Department of Psychology
Institute of Community Medicine, Dept of Geriatric Medicine
Institute of Clinical Neurosciences, Section of Psychiatry
Institute of Health Care Pedagogics
Pages 903-12
Language en
Keywords Aged, Cognition, Depression, etiology, Female, Humans, Male, Pain, epidemiology, psychology, Prevalence
Subject categories Older people and ageing


The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of pain and its characteristics, and to examine the association of pain with cognitive function and depressive symptoms, in a representative sample of 70-year-old men and women. Data were collected within the gerontological and geriatric population studies in G?teborg, Sweden (H-70). A sample of 124 men and 117 women living in the community took part in the study. A questionnaire was applied which included four different aspects of pain experience: prevalence, frequency of episodes of pain, duration and number of locations. In close connection to this, depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. The prevalence of pain during the last 14 days was higher in women (79%; n=91) than in men (53%; n=65) (P<0.001). Women (68%; n=78) also reported pain that had lasted for >6 months to a greater extent than men (38%; n=46) (P<0.001). The frequency of episodes of pain was also higher among women, 64% (n=74) reporting daily pain or pain several days during the last 14 days while 37% of the men (n=45) did so (P<0.001). Women (33%, n=38) also reported pain experience from >/=3 locations more often than men (11%; n=13) (P<0.001). On the other hand, the association between depressive symptoms and pain experience was more evident in men than in women. Women were taking significantly more antidepressants compared to men (P<0.03). The results show that pain is common in 70-year-old people and especially in women. However, associations between depressive symptoms and the four aspects of pain experience were more pronounced among men.

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