This study is designed to identify factors which influence quality of life for elderly people suffering from painful conditions It is based upon a theoretical model of control in which mood state is used as the indicator of coping One hundredand ninety elderly patients took part in semi-structured interviews about their pain and coping experiences, and data were also collected from their nurses in the community Multivariate statistical analysis revealed that the key determinants of mood were having regrets about the past, being occupied, perceived level of pain control, additional personal problems (notably bereavement) and feeling informed about the painful condition Active personal coping strategies were identified as moretherapeutic than passive strategies Nurses’ data revealed that pain complaints were associated with perceived exaggeration Few nurses used formal pain assessment. Recommendations for the management of persistent pain in the community are given