Chronic pain in later life is a worldwide problem. In younger patients, chronic pain affects life satisfaction negatively; however, it is unknown whether this outcome will extend into old age.
This study examines which factors determine life satisfaction in older adults who suffer from chronic pain with respect to socio-demographics, lifestyle behaviors, pain, and comorbidities.
This cross-sectional study recruited a random sample of people ≥65 years old living in south-eastern Sweden (N= 6611). A postal survey addressed pain aspects and health experiences. Three domains from the Life Satisfaction Questionnaire (LiSat-11) were used to capture the individual’s estimations of overall satisfaction (LiSat-life), somatic health (LiSat-somhealth), and psychological health (LiSat-psychhealth).
Respondents with chronic pain (2790, 76.2±7.4 years old) rated lower on life satisfaction than those without chronic pain, with medium effect size (ES) on LiSat-somhealth (r = 0.38, P < 0.001) and small ES on the other two domains (r < 0.3). Among the respondents with chronic pain, severe pain (OR 0.29–0.59) and pain spreading (OR 0.87–0.95) were inversely associated with all three domains of the LiSat-11. Current smoking, alcohol overconsumption, and obesity negatively affected one or more domains of the LiSat-11. Most comorbidities were negatively related to LiSat-somhealth, and some comorbidities affected the other two domains. For example, having tumour or cancer negatively affected both LiSat-life (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.44–0.88) and LiSat-somhealth (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.24–0.74). Anxiety or depression disorders had a negative relationship both for LiSat-life (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.38–0.78) and LiSat-psychhealth (OR 0.10, 95% CI 0.06–0.14).
Older adults with chronic pain reported lower life satisfaction but the difference from their peers without chronic pain was trivial, except for satisfaction with somatic health. Pain management in old age needs to consider comorbidities and severe pain to improve patients’ life satisfaction.
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