Nonpharmacological pain management by ethnically diverse older adults with chronic pain: barriers and facilitators

J Gerontol Soc Work. 2013;56(6):487-508. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2013.808725. Epub 2013 Jul 3.


As key players in multidisciplinary health care systems, geriatric social workers must understand the dynamics of pain management among older adults with chronic pain. This study identified perceived barriers to, and facilitators for, utilizing nonpharmacological pain management through face-to-face interviews with 44 ethnically diverse community-dwelling older adults. Constant comparative analysis identified barriers not recognized in prior studies: (a) embarrassment/self-consciousness, (b) unavailability of certain treatments, and (c) lack of faith in effectiveness of nonpharmacological treatments. Most frequently reported facilitators were (a) social support, (b) positive attitude, and (c) available resources. Social workers can provide counseling to motivate older adults to exercise to manage chronic pain and refer them to exercise programs tailored for older adults. To resolve the most frequently reported barrier-transportation-social workers can link older adults with transportation services offered by senior centers or other nonprofit agencies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Communication
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Management* / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Support
  • Social Work
  • Transportation