Florida Public Health Review


Juyoung Park

Publication Date

August 2010


The aim of the study was to examine chronic pain in older veterans (65+) and the pain treatment that they received at the Veteran Medical Center. Using a cross-sectional research design, a survey was administered to 107 older veteran participants with self-reported chronic pain recruited from outpatient centers of the Veterans Administration Medical Center: Pain Management Center, Geriatric Clinic, Arthritis Treatment Center, Mental Health Clinic, and Primary Care Clinic. Severity of pain, functional status, depression, spirituality, social support, and social network were assessed, and demographic data were collected. A majority of the participants (92.5%, n = 99) reported having had chronic pain for more than 6 months and having suffered from chronic pain, including back pain, knee pain, hip pain, and foot/toe pain. For chronic pain management, 17.8 % (n = 19) of the participants had received treatment from a pain specialist in the pain management clinic, but most of the participants (82.2%, n = 88) had received pharmacological treatment from their primary care doctor or other specialist, rather than specialized pain therapy. The prevalence of chronic pain is fairly high in older veterans, although most were receiving pain medication. The study analyses revealed that lower levels of functional status, higher levels of depressive symptoms, and lower levels of spirituality were associated with higher levels of pain intensity. Health care providers could ensure that routine screening for chronic pain is a part of their regular interaction with patients. They should be able to identify and address major barriers to effective pain management in older adults.