Pain in dementia: prevalence and associated factors: protocol of a multidisciplinary study
BACKGROUND Brain areas that are involved in cognition and mood also play a role in pain processing. OBJECTIVE The goal of the present study was to examine the relationship between chronic pain and cognition [executive functions (EF) and memory], while controlling for mood, in cognitively intact older persons and in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). METHODS Two groups of subjects participated: 20 older persons without dementia and 19 patients in an early stage of probable AD who suffered from arthrosis/arthritis. Pain intensity and pain affect were assessed by the Colored Analogue Scale for Pain Intensity and for Pain Affect, the Faces Pain Scale (FPS) and the Number of Words Chosen-Affective (NWC-A). Level of depression and anxiety were evaluated by questionnaires. EF and memory were assessed by neuropsychological tests. RESULTS The results show that significant correlations between specific cognitive functions, pain intensity and pain affect were lacking in the cognitively intact older persons. Cognition, in particular memory, appeared to be related to depressive symptoms. In contrast, a significant positive correlation was observed between EF, pain intensity and pain affect measured by the FPS in the AD group. CONCLUSIONS Although older persons with depression were excluded, in studies on pain and cognition one should control for the presence of depressive symptoms in older persons with and without dementia.