Chronic pain in Canadian seniors

Health Rep. 2008 Mar;19(1):37-52.


Objectives: This study describes the prevalence of chronic pain among seniors living in private households and in long-term health care institutions. Associations between an increase in chronic pain and unhappiness and negative self-perceived health are examined.

Data sources: Data are from the Health Institutions and Household components of Statistics Canada's 1994/1995 through 2002/2003 National Population Health Survey (NPHS) and 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS).

Analytical techniques: Prevalence rates of chronic pain were estimated using cross-sectional data from the 1996/1997 NPHS and the 2005 CCHS. Multiple logistic regression was used to model an increase in chronic pain in relation to quality of life outcomes, controlling for chronic conditions, medication use, age, sex, proxy response, and socioeconomic status.

Main results: Thirty-eight percent of institutionalized seniors experienced pain on a regular basis, compared with 27% of seniors living in households. In both populations, rates were higher for women than men. An increase in pain over a two-year period was associated with higher odds of being unhappy or having negative self-perceived health at the end of the period.

Conclusions: Chronic pain is a major health issue for seniors, particularly those in health care institutions. The reduction of pain symptoms, independent of the presence of chronic conditions, would have a positive impact on the well-being of seniors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution