Severity of chronic pain in an elderly population in Sweden--impact on costs and quality of life

Pain. 2015 Mar;156(3):521-527. doi: 10.1097/01.j.pain.0000460336.31600.01.


Chronic pain is associated with large societal costs, but few studies have investigated the total costs of chronic pain with respect to elderly subjects. The elderly usually require informal care, care performed by municipalities, and care for chronic diseases, all factors that can result in extensive financial burdens on elderly patients, their families, and the social services provided by the state. This study aims to quantify the societal cost of chronic pain in people of age 65 years and older and to assess the impact of chronic pain on quality of life. This study collected data from 3 registers concerning health care, drugs, and municipal services and from 2 surveys. A postal questionnaire was used to collect data from a stratified sample of the population 65 years and older in southeastern Sweden. The questionnaire addressed pain intensity and quality of life variables (EQ-5D). A second postal questionnaire was used to collect data from relatives of the elderly patients suffering from chronic pain. A total of 66.5% valid responses of the 10,000 subjects was achieved; 76.9% were categorized as having no or mild chronic pain, 18.9% as having moderate chronic pain, and 4.2% as having severe chronic pain. Consumed resources increased with the severity of chronic pain. Clear differences in EQ-5D were found with respect to the severity of pain. This study found an association between resource use and severity of chronic pain in elderly subjects: the more severe the chronic pain, the more extensive (and expensive) the use of resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Chronic Pain / economics*
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology