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Keywords:

  • pain;
  • frailty;
  • older adults;
  • homeostenosis

Objectives

To compare the association between self-reported moderate to severe pain and frailty.

Design

Cross-sectional analysis of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging Wave 2.

Setting

Community.

Participants

Representative sample of persons aged 65 and older in Canada.

Measurements

Pain (exposure) was categorized as no or very mild pain versus moderate or greater pain. Frailty (outcome) was operationalized as the accumulation of 33 possible self-reported health attitudes, illnesses, and functional abilities, subsequently divided into tertiles (not frail, prefrail, and frail). Multivariable logistic regression assessed for the association between pain and frailty.

Results

Of participants who reported moderate or greater pain (35.5%, 1,765/4,968), 16.2% were not frail, 34.1% were prefrail, and 49.8% were frail. For persons with moderate or greater pain, the odds of being prefrail rather than not frail were higher by a factor of 2.52 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.13–2.99; < .001). For persons with moderate or greater pain, the odds of being frail rather than not frail were higher by a factor of 5.52 (95% CI = 4.49–6.64 < .001).

Conclusion

Moderate or higher pain was independently associated with frailty. Although causality cannot be ascertained in a cross-sectional analysis, interventions to improve pain management may help prevent or ameliorate frailty.