Pain and Disability in Older Mexican-American Adults

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To examine an association between pain severity and functional disability in older Mexican Americans.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study (2005/06), a subsample of the Hispanic Established Population for Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly.

SETTING:

Community.

PARTICIPANTS:

One thousand thirteen Mexican American aged 74 to 100.

MEASUREMENTS:

Bilingual interviewers administered structured questionnaires and assessed physical measures of mobility and frailty (exhaustion, weight loss, walking speed, grip strength, and self-reported physical activity). Two items from the SF-36 questionnaire assessed pain experiences in the previous 4 weeks.

RESULTS:

Chi-square one-way analysis of variance and least square and negative binomial regressions were computed for 744 participants with complete data to investigate experience of pain and other dimensions of health and functioning. Close to two-thirds (64.7%) reported pain within 4 weeks of the interview, and 49.7% reported that pain interfered with performance of daily activities. Female sex; low education; frailty; reduced mobility; disability; and high comorbidity, body mass index, and depressive symptomatology were significantly associated with pain severity and interference. Regression coefficients revealed that pain severity was significantly related to disability in activities of daily living (0.22, P<.001) and instrumental activities of daily living (0.23, P<.01) after controlling for sociodemographic and health status characteristics.

CONCLUSION:

The findings expand the pain literature on older Mexican Americans. High pain rates were most prevalent in women and subjects with high comorbidity, high depressive symptomatology, poor mobility, and frailty. Pain also plays a significant role in disability status. In-depth research is needed to understand the pain experiences of older Mexican Americans and their effect on health and well-being.

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