Pain in European long-term care facilities: Cross-national study in Finland, Italy and the Netherlands

Wilco P. Achterberg, Giovanni Gambassi, Harriet Finne-Soveri, Rosa Liperoti, Anja Noro, Dinnus H M Frijters, Antonio Cherubini, Giusy Dell'Aquila, Miel W. Ribbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There have been very few and limited cross-national comparisons concerning pain among residents of long-term care facilities in Europe. The aim of the present cross-sectional study has been to document the prevalence of pain, its frequency and severity as well as its correlates in three European countries: Finland (north), Italy (south) and the Netherlands (western central). Patients (aged 65 years or above) were assessed with the Minimum Data Set 2.0 (MDS).The final sample comprised 5761 patients from 64 facilities in Finland, 2295 patients from 8 facilities in the Netherlands and 1959 patients from 31 facilities in Italy. The prevalence of pain - defined as any type of pain - varied between 32% in Italy, 43% in the Netherlands and 57% in Finland. In nearly 50% of cases, pain was present daily; there were no significant differences in pain prevalence between patients with cancer diagnosis and those with non-cancer diagnosis. Regardless of the different prevalence estimates, pain was moderate-to-severe in over 50% of cases in all the countries. In multivariate logistic regression models, clinical correlates of pain were substantially similar across countries: pain was positively correlated with more severe physical disability (ADL impairment), clinical depression and a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Pain was negatively correlated with a diagnosis of dementia and more severe degrees of cognitive deterioration. We conclude that pain is frequently encountered in long-term care facilities in Europe and that, despite cultural and case-mix differences, pain speaks one language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-74
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Aged
  • Comprehensive geriatric assessment
  • Cross-national comparisons
  • InterRAI
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Minimum Data Set
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Pharmacology


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