Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Ageing and pain

Research profile

Ageing well with painChronic pain is internationally recognized as a prevalent (ranging from 10-30%) and disabling condition in the older population. It has a serious impact on the quality of life of older people, expressed by depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, appetite disturbance and weight loss, cognitive impairment, and limitations in the performance of daily activities. The proportion of the NZ population aged over 65 years is rapidly increasing and expected to constitute 23% of the population by 2036 and 26% by 2061 [NZ census, 2013]. Almost 50% of this population experience pain and disability. In particular, the prevalence of chronic pain and arthritis (a significant cause of chronic pain) has increased significantly from 2006/07 (17% to 20%, and from 15% to 17% respectively) [Ministry of Health, 2015]. However, little is known about the impact of such chronic pain in the ageing NZ population.


The New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS 2012-2013) has provided statistical data related to pain and different forms of disability (for example: hearing, speaking, seeing, learning or remembering, intellectual, physical functioning, psychological/emotional & social functioning) [Ministry of health, 2014], but limited information is available regarding pain and pain-related disability, and its impact on social participation among older people. In the NZHS, chronic pain is defined as pain lasting for six months in duration, whereas the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as chronic if it lasts for more than three months. Our study will bridge an important gap between what is known about pain, and pain-related impact on activity restrictions and social participation in the ageing population

Aims

This project aims to:
1. Promote healthy ageing in NZ through understanding the perceived barriers and facilitators to activity and social participation due to chronic pain in an ageing population.
2. Provide the basis for co-developed community-based programs in minimizing pain and pain-related disability in an ageing population.

This project area is led by Prof G. David Baxter

For enquires on any of the projects: Dr Poonam Mehta

Current projects

Ageing and Pain Systematic review

A systematic review of interventions aimed at reducing pain in ageing population with chronic musculoskeletal pain
Objectives of the study: The objectives of this study are to explore and describe:

  1. What intervention techniques are used in current pain management clinical practices?
  2. Identify key characteristics of interventions that appear to be associated with changes in pain levels in ageing population with chronic pain.

Research team

Local collaborators:

  • Prof David G. Baxter (University of Otago)
  • Dr Poonam Mehta (University of Otago)

Ageing Well with Chronic Pain study (Focus Group)

Exploring the attitudes and beliefs of older people with chronic pain, and the impact of this pain on their activities level and community participation.
Objectives of the study: The objectives of this study are to explore and describe:

  1. What are older peoples’ attitudes and beliefs about their pain?
  2. How does chronic pain impact upon level of activity, and community participation?
  3. What are perceived barriers and facilitators to activities, and community participation despite having chronic pain?
  4. What are older people’s attitudes towards community-based pain management programs for easing their pain?

For more about the study please see the recruitment page. 

Research team

Local collaborators:

  • Prof David G. Baxter (University of Otago)
  • Dr Catherine M. Smith (University of Otago)
  • Dr Ramakrishnan Mani (University of Otago)
  • Dr Poonam Mehta (University of Otago)

Ageing and Pain Otago Southland health survey

In collaboration with local and national Ageing Stakeholder Organizations, we are working on a prospective study where a state level health-based survey will be developed to determine applicability of results from phase one in a wider population.
Objectives of the study: The objectives of this health survey are:

  1. To explore the generalizability of the themes identified from the focus group analysis in a wider population.
  2. To develop a model of barriers and facilitators to active lives and community engagement in older people with chronic pain.
  3. To inform the development of community-based interventions to support ageing well in people with chronic pain.

Research team:

Local collaborators:

  • Prof David G. Baxter (University of Otago)
  • Dr Catherine M. Smith (University of Otago)
  • Dr Ramakrishnan Mani (University of Otago)
  • Dr Poonam Mehta (University of Otago)

Research funding

This research is supported by Lottery Health Research Grant.