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Chronic pain and distress in older people: A cluster analysis


M.L. Hall-Lord Department of Health and Caring Sciences, University of Karlstad, S-651 88 Karlstad, Sweden. Fax: +46 054836996; Email: <>


Chronic pain represents a major health problem among older people. The aims of the present study were to: (i) identify various profiles of pain and distress experiences among older patients; and (ii) compare whether background variables, sense of coherence, functional ability and experiences of interventions aimed at reducing pain and distress varied among the patient profiles. Interviews were carried out with 42 older patients. A cluster analysis yielded three clusters, each representing a different profile of patients. Case illustrations are provided for each profile. There were no differences between the clusters, regarding intensity and duration of pain. One profile, with subjects of advanced age, showed a decreased functional ability and favourable scores in most of the categories of pain and distress. Another profile of patients showed favourable mean scores in all categories. The third cluster of patients showed unfavourable scores in most categories of pain and distress. There appears to be a need to treat the three groups of patients in different ways in the caring situation.