Pain Incidence, Treatment, and Associated Symptoms in Hospitalized Persons with Dementia

Marie Boltz, Barbara Resnick, Ashley Kuzmik, Jacqueline Mogle, Joanne Roman Jones, Rachel Arendacs, Rhonda BeLue, Pamela Cacchione, James E. Galvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Moderate to severe pain has been frequently reported in hospitalized older adults. Pain in hospitalized persons with dementia within the context of other common symptoms, functional decline, delirium, and behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), has received little attention. Aims: Describe the incidence of pain, the pharmacologic management of pain, and the association of pain with physical function, delirium, and BPSD in hospitalized persons with dementia. Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional study. Setting: Six medical units in three hospitals. Participants: Baseline data from 299 hospitalized persons with dementia enrolled in the Family-centered Function-focused Care (Fam-FFC) cluster randomized trial. Methods: Descriptive analyses of pain used the Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia (PAINAD) scale and the use of medication for pain management. Linear regression analyses tested relationships between pain and:1) physical function (Barthel Index), 2) delirium severity (Confusion Assessment Method Severity Short Form) and 3) BPSD severity (Neuropsychiatric Inventory- Questionnaire). Results: The majority of the sample was female (61.9%), non-Hispanic (98%), and Black (53.2%), with a mean age of 81.58 (SD=8.54).Of the 299 patients, 166 (56%) received pain medication. Of the 108 individuals who demonstrated pain, 40% (n=43) did not receive pain medication. When controlling for age, gender, cognition, and comorbidities, pain was significantly associated with function, delirium severity, and BPSD severity. Conclusions: Results suggest that pain may be undertreated in hospitalized persons with dementia, and should be considered upon admission to optimize function, decrease delirium, and prevent or decrease BPSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-163
Number of pages6
JournalPain Management Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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