Limited cohort studies have assessed the association between uncontrolled pain and risk for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSDs). We conducted a longitudinal cohort study to examine whether associations exist between uncontrolled pain and risk for 2 common BPSDs—depression and behavioral symptoms—among long-term care (LTC) residents with Alzheimer disease and related dementia (ADRD).
This retrospective cohort study analyzed quarterly data from the 5% Medicare sample linked to Minimum Data Set (MDS) 3.0 between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2015.
Setting and Participants
LTC residents aged 50 years or older with ADRD who had chronic pain and at least 2 quarterly MDS 3.0 assessments.
LTC residents were followed up quarterly from first observed quarterly MDS 3.0 until first outcome event or last observed quarterly MDS 3.0. Uncontrolled pain was defined as numerical rating scale >4, verbal descriptor scale of moderate or severe pain, or ≥1 pain indicators on the Checklist of Nonverbal Pain Indicators. Depression was defined as ≥10 on the Patient Health Questionnaire 9; behavioral symptoms were defined as the presence of psychotic (delusions or hallucinations) or disruptive behaviors (rejection of care, or physical, verbal, or other aggressive behaviors). Generalized linear models (GLMs) with marginal structural modeling (MSM) stabilized weights were used to examine uncontrolled pain and outcome risk.
The incidence rate of depression and behavioral symptoms during follow-up was 9.4 and 23.1 per 100 resident-years, respectively. Results from the MSM-GLMs showed that LTC residents with uncontrolled pain had a higher risk than those with controlled pain for developing depression [hazard ratio 1.67, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.54–1.81] and behavioral symptoms (hazard ratio 1.28, 95% CI 1.19–1.37).
Conclusions and Implications
Uncontrolled pain was associated with elevated risk for depressive and behavioral symptoms in dementia, underscoring the importance of pain assessment and control among LTC residents with ADRD.
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Published online: June 02, 2021
This project was funded by the National Institute on Aging (Mentored Research Scientist Award K01AG054764, Dr. Wei).
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
© 2021 AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.