News Release

Does persistent pain impact older adults’ physical function, cognition, and well-being?

Peer-Reviewed Publication


In a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society of 5,589 US adults aged 65 years and older, persistent pain was common and was linked to meaningful declines in physical function and well-being over 7 years.

Investigators found that 38.7% of participants reported persistent pain, and 27.8% reported intermittent pain. (“Persistent pain” was defined as being bothered by pain in the last month in two consecutive annual interviews and “intermittent” pain was defined as bothersome pain in one interview only.)  

More than one-third of participants described pain in five or more sites. Over the subsequent 7 years, participants with persistent pain were more likely to experience declines in physical function (64% persistent pain, 59% intermittent pain, 57% no bothersome pain) and well-being (48% persistent pain, 45% intermittent pain, 44% no bothersome pain), but were not more likely to experience cognitive decline (25% persistent pain, 24% intermittent pain, 23% no bothersome pain).

“The findings from this study point to the importance of access to effective treatment for persistent pain in older adults and the need for additional research in chronic pain to optimize quality of life,” said lead author Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital.

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Additional Information

NOTE: The information contained in this release is protected by copyright. Please include journal attribution in all coverage. For more information or to obtain a PDF of any study, please contact: Sara Henning-Stout,

About the Journal

Included in more than 15,000 library collections around the world, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society is the go-to journal for clinical aging research. We provide a diverse, interprofessional community of healthcare professionals with the latest insights on geriatrics education, clinical practice, and public policy—all supporting the high-quality, person-centered care essential to our well-being as we age

About Wiley

Wiley is one of the world’s largest publishers and a global leader in scientific research and career-connected education. Founded in 1807, Wiley enables discovery, powers education, and shapes workforces. Through its industry-leading content, digital platforms, and knowledge networks, the company delivers on its timeless mission to unlock human potential. Visit us at Follow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.

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