Background Chronic pain causes disability, loss of independence and has a high social burden, particularly among elderly. Socially isolation is associated with the experience of pain from western literature. Data from Asia is scanty.
Objectives We aim to evaluate the relationship between living arrangements, perceived loneliness and strength of social network with onset and progression of chronic pain over 2 years in the elderly Singaporeans, separately among men and women.
Methods We used two waves data from the Social Isolation Health and Lifestyles Survey (SIHLS), a nationally representative survey of community dwelling older Singaporeans aged 60 and above (n=5,000) in 2009 and follow-up in 2011. We used multinomial regression models to examine the factors associated with self-reported onset and progression of chronic pain over time.
Results A total of 3,103 participants (53.8% female) completed 2-waves survey in 2009 and 2011 (response rate 63.7%). The mean (SD) age at recruitment was 69.4 (0.5). The prevalence of mild and moderate to extreme chronic pain were 27.7% and 12.8% respectively at baseline. Participants with chronic pain were more likely to be female, older, Malay or Indian versus Chinese, widowed, less educated, living alone, having higher perceived loneliness and having weaker social networks. Participants with chronic pain also had poorer self-rated health, higher percentage of depression, comorbidities and disabilities. There were 20.1% and 8.6% reported having chronic pain onset and progression over the 2-year period. In multinomial regression model poorer self-rated health and perceived loneliness at baseline were predictors of onset of chronic pain in men; while lower education level, living alone, and poorer self-rated health were predictors for chronic pain onset in women. Predictors of chronic pain progression included being widowed and poorer self-rated health in men; weak social network and disability in women.
Conclusions Chronic pain is common amongst the elderly in Singapore. Living alone, perceived loneliness and weak social network were socio-psychological factors associated with the onset or progression of pain. These are modifiable areas to target in the multi-disciplinary management of chronic pain.
Disclosure of Interest None declared