Higher perceived stress scale scores are associated with higher pain intensity and pain interference levels in older adults

Robert S. White, Julie Jiang, Charles B. Hall, Mindy J. Katz, Molly E. Zimmerman, Martin Sliwinski, Richard B. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Objectives To determine the prevalence of bodily pain measures (pain intensity and interference) in elderly people and their relationship with Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) scores.

Design Cross-sectional.

Setting Community.

Participants A representative community sample of 578 individuals aged 70 and older (mean age 78.8, 63% female).

Measurements The prevalence of pain intensity and pain interference and their relationship with PSS scores, demographic factors, past medical history, and neuropsychological testing scores were examined. Pain intensity and pain interference were measured using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Survey bodily pain questions.

Results Bivariate analysis for pain measures showed that PSS scores, neuropsychological test scores, and medical histories were associated with pain intensity and interference. Logistic regression showed that higher PSS scores were significantly associated with greater odds of having moderate to severe pain intensity and moderate to severe pain interference (with and without the inclusion of pain intensity in the models).

Conclusion Higher PSS scores are associated with greater pain intensity and interference. In this cross-sectional analysis, directionality cannot be determined. Because perceived stress and pain are potentially modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline and other poor health outcomes, future research should address temporality and the benefits of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2350-2356
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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