Prevalence, characteristics and treatment of chronic pain in elderly patients hospitalized in internal medicine wards

Nicole Corsi, Anna Roberto, Laura Cortesi, Alessandro Nobili, Pier Mannuccio Mannucci, Oscar Corli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Chronic pain is a frequent characteristic of elderly people and represents an actual and still poorly debated topic. Objective: We investigated pain prevalence and intensity, and its pharmacological therapy in elderly patients hospitalized in 101 internal medicine wards. Methods: Taking advantage of the “REgistro POliterapie Società Italiana Medicina Interna” (REPOSI), we collected 2535 patients of whom almost a quarter was older than 85 years old. Among them, 582 patients were affected by pain (either chronic or acute) and 296 were diagnosed with chronic pain. Results: Patients with pain showed worse cognitive status, higher depression and comorbidities, and a longer duration of hospital stay compared to those without pain (all p < .0366). Patients with chronic pain revealed lower level of independency in their daily life, worse cognitive status and higher level of depression compared to acute pain patients (all p < .0156). Moreover, most of them were not treated for pain at admission (73.4%) and half of them was not treated with any analgesic drug at discharge (50.5%). This difference affected also the reported levels of pain intensity. Patients who received analgesics at both admission and discharge remained stable (p = .172). Conversely, those not treated at admission who received an analgesic treatment during the hospital stay decreased their perceived pain (p < .0001). Conclusions: Our results show the need to focus more attention on the pharmacological treatment of chronic pain, especially in hospitalized elderly patients, in order to support them and facilitate their daily life after hospital discharge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-39
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Aging
  • Analgesic treatment
  • Chronic pain
  • Pain management
  • Undertreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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