Rheumatology International

, Volume 35, Issue 9, pp 1461–1472 | Cite as

How is the experience of pain measured in older, community-dwelling people with osteoarthritis? A systematic review of the literature

  • Katie de LucaEmail author
  • Lynne Parkinson
  • Henry Pollard
  • Julie Byles
  • Fiona Blyth
Review Article - Observational research


The objective of the study was to perform a systematic review to identify and appraise outcome measures and measures of pain that are used to assess the experience of pain by older people with osteoarthritis, and to assess whether these measures are effective at capturing the multidimensional nature of the experience of this pain. A systematic review of five electronic databases from January 1996 to March 2013 was done. Inclusion criteria were cohort/observational and cross-sectional studies; specific diagnosis of OA; employed outcome measures of pain and/or health and/or quality of life which included questions about pain; and considered older adults. Articles were reviewed for methodological quality using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. A total of 14 publications met the inclusion criteria, and 11 discrete studies were included in the review. The studies used 21 different outcome measures, utilizing 13 measures of pain. Sensory, affective and cognitive dimensions of pain were captured by the measures, albeit studies predominantly measured intensity or severity alone. Measures of pain used in epidemiological studies do not adequately capture the multidimensional nature of the experience of pain in osteoarthritis. There is a fraught complexity in the multidimensionality of the experience of pain in osteoarthritis, and studies exploring osteoarthritis pain in older people should attempt to capture this multidimensionality by employing multiple valid and reliable outcome measures that capture specific dimensions of the pain experience.


Arthritis Osteoarthritis Pain Pain measurement Systematic review 



Katie de Luca acknowledges receipt of the Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship and Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia (COCA) Research Ltd Top up Scholarship contribution.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest in the preparation of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katie de Luca
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lynne Parkinson
    • 2
  • Henry Pollard
    • 3
  • Julie Byles
    • 1
  • Fiona Blyth
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Centre for Gender Health and AgeingUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Central Queensland UniversityRockhamptonAustralia
  3. 3.University of Notre DameSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Education and Research on Ageing, Concord Clinical SchoolUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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