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Problematic Pain Med Prescribing in NH Patients With Dementia

January 19, 2021

While untreated pain is common among nursing home residents with dementia, at the same time a significant share of residents is receiving analgesics without having pain, according to a study published online in Pain Management Nursing.

“Proper pain assessment and regular reassessment are prerequisites for the prescribing and deprescribing of analgesics,” advised researchers from Japan and Norway. 

The finding stemmed from an analysis of 463 nursing home patients in a multicenter trial. Participants underwent a series of screenings assessing cognitive function, quality of life, and pain. Researchers also looked at analgesic prescriptions for each patient.

More than three-quarters of participants had moderate to severe dementia. According to the study, nearly 44% of participants reported clinically significant pain—69% in two or more locations. Musculoskeletal pain was common. 

“Some 33.5% of participants had pain receiving analgesics, 10% had pain with no analgesics, and 27% had no pain receiving analgesics,” researchers reported. 

Pain intensity scores, compared with assessments of different pain locations, were more significantly linked with quality of life and, consequently, should be emphasized when evaluating pain and quality of life, researchers advised.  

Jolynn Tumolo


Wagatsuma S, Yamaguchi T, Berge LI, et al. How, Why and Where it Hurts-Breaking Down Pain Syndrome Among Nursing Home Patients With Dementia: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the COSMOS Trial [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jan 8]. Pain Manag Nurs. 2021;S1524-9042(20)30239-3. doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2020.11.014

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