Chronic pain and depression among geriatric psychiatry inpatients

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We examined whether chronic pain among depressed geriatric inpatients was associated with several clinical variables—comorbid psychiatric and medical diagnoses, length of hospitalization, suicidal ideation, and sleep duration.


Medical charts of inpatients admitted to a geriatric psychiatry unit over 2 years were examined retrospectively; 148 patients with a depressive disorder were identified. Admission pain assessments were used to classify whether patients had chronic pain. Other variables of interest were collected from charts.


62% of patients reported chronic pain. In multivariate regression analysis, depressed older adults with chronic pain were more likely to report suicidal ideation, be diagnosed with personality disorder, have higher medical burden, and experience decreased total sleep time compared to depressed older adults without chronic pain.


Chronic pain—common in depressed older adults—may influence clinical features of depression and should be assessed as a possible suicide risk factor. Prospective studies should examine causal relationships and determine the effects of adequate pain treatment on depression course and suicide risk in older adults.

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