Objective: The study investigated the experience of orofacial pain (OFP) symptoms and associated disability and psychosocial impact in community dwelling and institutionalized elderly people in Hong Kong.
Methods: A community-based cross-sectional survey involving elders aged 60 years and above. Participants were recruited at social centres for the elderly and homes for the aged throughout Hong Kong. Elders who reported OFP symptoms in the previous four weeks took part. Standard questions were asked about OFP conditions in the previous month and the Manchester Orofacial Pain Disability Scale (MOPDS), the Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP-14) and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) were administered. The MOPDS was translated and validated for use in Chinese elders.
Results: 200 community dwelling and 200 institutionalized elders participated. Toothache was the most common symptom (62.0%) and burning sensation in the tongue was least common (0.5%). The distribution of pain symptoms, pain duration and severity and pain ratings were similar in both groups. The MOPDS (Chinese elders version) had good reliability and construct validity. The MOPDS and OHIP-14 summary scores was significantly higher in the institutionalized elderly (p < 0.001 and p < 0.013, respectively). Psychological distress (GHQ-12 score > or = 4) was more common among the institutionalized elderly (11%) than the community dwelling elderly (4.0%, p = 0.002).
Conclusions: Orofacial pain symptoms were associated with significant disability and had a detrimental impact on psychological distress level and quality of life, particularly in the institutionalized elderly. There is a need to improve access to professional care and health-related outreach services generally for elderly people in Hong Kong.