Pain characteristics and quality of life in older people at high risk of future hospitalization

Maria M Johansson, Marco Barbero, Anneli Peolsson, Deborah Falla, Corrado Cescon, Anna Folli, Huan-Ji Dong

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This study deals with how pain characteristics in conjunction with other factors affect quality of life (QoL) in a vulnerable primary care population. We recruited vulnerable older people (75+, n = 825) living in south-eastern Sweden. A postal questionnaire included pain aspects, QoL (EQ-5D-3L, RAND-36 physical functioning, attitudes toward own aging, and life satisfaction), functional status, social networks, and basic demographic information. Pain extent and localization was obtained by digitalization of pain drawings reported on standard body charts. Most respondents were experiencing pain longer than 3 months (88.8%). Pain frequency varied mostly between occasionally (33.8%) and every day (34.8%). A minority reported high pain intensity (13.6%). The lower back and lower legs were the most frequently reported pain locations (>25%). Multiple linear regression model revealed three characteristics of pain (intensity, frequency, and extent) remained inversely associated with the EQ-5D-3L index score (R2 = 0.57). Individually, each of these pain characteristics showed a negative impact on the other three dimensions of QoL (R2 = 0.23-0.59). Different features of pain had impact on different dimensions of QoL in this aging population. A global pain assessment is useful to facilitate individual treatment and rehabilitation strategies in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number958
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Aging
  • Pain drawing
  • Pain extent
  • Primary care
  • Quality of life
  • Vulnerable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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