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Prevalence of Analgesic Use and Pain in People with and without Dementia or Cognitive Impairment in Aged Care Facilities: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

[ Vol. 10 , Issue. 3 ]


Edwin C.K. Tan, Natali Jokanovic, Marjaana P.H. Koponen, Dennis Thomas, Sarah N. Hilmer and J. Simon Bell Pages 194-203 (10)


Pain is a frequent cause of discomfort and distress in residents in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). Despite the benefits of adequate pain management, there is inconsistency in the literature regarding analgesic use and pain in residents with dementia. The aim of this systematic review was to determine the prevalence of analgesic drug use among residents with and without dementia or cognitive impairment in RACFs. A systematic search of MEDLINE and EMBASE (inception to January 2014) was conducted using Medical Subject Headings and Emtree terms, respectively. Studies were included if they reported prevalence of analgesic use for residents both with and without dementia within the same study. Data extraction and quality assessment was performed independently by two investigators. Data on the prevalence of analgesic use, pain and painful conditions were extracted. Meta-analyses were performed using random effect models. The 7 included studies were of high quality (≥5 out of 7 on the adapted Newcastle-Ottawa Scale). Analgesic use in residents with and without dementia or cognitive impairment ranged from 20.2% to 61.2% and 38.8% to 79.6%, respectively. Paracetamol was the most prevalent analgesic in people with and without dementia. Residents with dementia or cognitive impairment had a significantly lower prevalence of analgesic use (odds ratio [OR] 0.576, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.406-0.816) and of self-reported and clinician-observed pain (OR 0.355, 95% CI = 0.278-0.454) than residents without cognitive impairment, despite a comparable prevalence of painful conditions. These findings may indicate under-reporting and under-detection of pain in persons with dementia, and subsequent suboptimal treatment.


Analgesics, dementia, homes for aged, long-term care, nursing home, pain, systematic review.


Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University (Parkville campus), 381 Royal Parade, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia.

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