The Temporal Relationship between Pain Intensity and Pain Interference and Incident Dementia

Author(s): Ali Ezzati*, Cuiling Wang, Mindy J. Katz, Carol A. Derby, Andrea R. Zammit, Molly E. Zimmerman, Jelena M. Pavlovic, Martin J. Sliwinski, Richard B. Lipton.

Journal Name: Current Alzheimer Research

Volume 16 , Issue 2 , 2019


Background: Chronic pain is common among older adults and is associated with cognitive dysfunction based on cross-sectional studies. However, the longitudinal association between chronic pain and incident dementia in community-based samples is unknown.

Objective: We aimed to evaluate the association of pain intensity and pain interference with incident dementia in a community-based sample of older adults.

Methods: Participants were 1,114 individuals 70 years of age or older from Einstein Aging Study (EAS), a longitudinal cohort study of community-dwelling older adults in the Bronx County, NY. The primary outcome measure was incident dementia, diagnosed using DSM-IV criteria. Pain intensity and interference in the month prior to first annual visit were measured using items from the SF-36 questionnaire. Pain intensity and pain interference were assessed as predictors of time to incident dementia using Cox proportionate hazards models while controlling for potential confounders.

Results: Among participants, 114 individuals developed dementia over an average 4.4 years (SD=3.1) of follow-up. Models showed that pain intensity had no significant effect on time to developing dementia, whereas higher levels of pain interference were associated with a higher risk of dementia. In the model that included both pain intensity and interference as predictors of incident dementia, pain interference had a significant effect on incident dementia, and pain intensity remained non-significant.

Conclusion: As a potential remediable risk factor, the mechanisms linking pain interference to cognitive decline merit further exploration.

Keywords: Pain intensity, pain interference, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, remediable risk factor.

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Article Details

Year: 2019
Page: [109 - 115]
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.2174/1567205016666181212162424

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