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Pain and dementia: an overview of the literature


  • Linda McAuliffe PhD Candidate, MPsych, BBSc ,

  • Donna Brown PhD, MA, PGDip HP, PGCertLLL, RN,

  • Deirdre Fetherstonhaugh PhD, MA, BA, RN

Deirdre Fetherstonhaugh
Australian Centre for
Evidence Based Aged Care
Level 5
Health Sciences 2
La Trobe University
Vic., 3086
Telephone: +61 3 9479 6002


mcauliffe l., brown d. & fetherstonhaugh d. (2012) Pain and dementia: an overview of the literature. International Journal of Older People Nursing7, 219–226
doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2012.00331.x

This paper discusses how pain and its undertreatment impacts upon older people with dementia. It outlines how the contributing factors to the underassessment of pain are numerous and includes dementia-related factors (such as loss of communication ability) and health professional–related factors (such as inappropriate or non-application of a pain-assessment tool and deficit knowledge regarding pain mechanisms and/or dementia). Pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment options for pain are noted as important but are not the focus of this paper.

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