Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 347–353 | Cite as

Prevalence and treatment of pain in non-institutionalized very old population: transversal study at national level

  • César Gálvez-BarrónEmail author
  • Leire Narvaiza
  • María D. Dapena
  • Oscar Macho
  • Alejandro Rodríguez-Molinero
Original Article



In Europe, there is no conclusive data at national level about pain prevalence in non-institutionalized very old population. In USA, it has recently been reported a high prevalence (56 %); however, this data can not be extrapolated to other regions because the known influence of geographical and ethnic differences. Furthermore there are few data on use of treatments for pain in this population.


To explore prevalence and considered pharmacological treatments for pain in this population.


Transversal study on 551 participants aged 80 or more living in Spain (non-institutionalized). Probabilistic multistage sampling was carried out, stratified by sex and place of residence. All Spanish regions were considered for recruitment process. Pain (last 4 weeks), intensity (Face Pain Scale), localization and pharmacological treatments were evaluated by in-person interviews.


Pain’s prevalence was 52.5 % (CI 95 % 48.28–56.80) and 38.5 % experienced pain of at least moderate intensity. The most frequently involved body regions were lower limbs (26.6 %) and dorso-lumbar region (21.9 %). Only 40 % of participants with pain and 43.2 % with moderate or severe pain used analgesics, and paracetamol was less frequently used than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at any pain intensity. Age was not associated with higher prevalence [odds ratios 0.97 (CI 95 % 0.93–1.02) in females and 0.99 (CI 95 % 0.92–1.06) in males].


The prevalence of pain in non-institutionalized very old people is high. Pain is probably being undertreated, even moderate or severe pain. Guideline’s recommendations are probably not being considered to select the analgesic therapy.


Pain Analgesics use Aged 80 and over Epidemiology 



We thank Dr. Antonio Yuste Marco for the hard work done in research management and administration. We thank Natalia Gonzalo and Esther Valldosera for their invaluable work in data collection and quality control during the field work. The present work has been supported by the project CAALYX (IST-2005-045215) funded by the European Commission within the 6th Framework Programme, and the Spanish Geriatric and Gerontology Society. These organizations did not participate in the design, data analysis and interpretation, or any other relevant issue of this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

This study was approved by the reference Ethics Committee of the research centre where the study was conducted and written informed consent was obtained from all participants. In case, a cognitively incapacitated potential participant was contacted, the proxy or a legally authorized relative was asked to participate in the trial.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • César Gálvez-Barrón
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Leire Narvaiza
    • 2
  • María D. Dapena
    • 2
  • Oscar Macho
    • 2
  • Alejandro Rodríguez-Molinero
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Clinical Research Unit, Hospital Sant Antoni AbatFundació Privada Sant Antoni AbatBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Geriatrics DepartmentConsorci Sanitari del GarrafBarcelonaSpain

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