September 5, 2017

Pain and Alzheimer’s disease

Clinicians should use a structured interview in people with Alzheimer’s disease to identify pain that might be otherwise overlooked.

by Meredith Jackson

For people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), pain that interferes with daily activities may be more common than people with AD typically report.

This is the major implication of a study by Jinjiao Wang, Ph.D., R.N., Todd Monroe, Ph.D., R.N., and colleagues published recently in the journal Aging and Mental Health.

The Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form was administered as a structured pain interview to examine pain interference in 52 communicative adults with AD who were at least 65 years old and who reported being free from chronic pain requiring daily pain medication.

The interview detected an increased risk of pain interference as well as symptoms of depression in approximately 20 percent of respondents. Those with better cognitive function reported more pain interference and depressive symptoms, suggesting that pain is likely to be under-reported as AD progresses.

Clinicians should regularly assess pain interference and depressive symptoms in people with AD to identify pain that might be otherwise overlooked, the researchers concluded. Using a structured interview may help.

This research was supported by the Vanderbilt Office of Clinical and Translational Scientist Development, the Vanderbilt Clinical and Translational Research Scholars Program and the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers AG046379 and AG045735).

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