Prevalence and sites of pain in remote-living older Aboriginal Australians, and associations with depressive symptoms and disability

Aaron Wong, Zoë Hyde, Kate Smith, Leon Flicker, David Atkinson, Linda Skeaf, Roslyn Malay, Dina LoGiudice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Pain is a growing public health problem associated with significant health and functional implications. Limited data exist for Aboriginal Australians. Aims: To describe the prevalence, severity and sites of pain, analgesic use and associated factors, including depression and disability, in remote-living Aboriginal Australians. Methods: Cross-sectional study of 263 Aboriginal Australians aged ≥45 years from six remote Indigenous communities and the town of Derby in the Kimberley region of Western Australia between 2011 and 2013. Pain was assessed using a culturally adapted pain scale. Factors associated with pain were investigated with binary logistic regression. Results: One hundred and seventy (64.6%) participants reported having pain and 53 (20.2%) reported persistent pain. Of those reporting pain, 61 (35.9%) rated it as moderate and 70 (41.2%) as severe. The most common sites of pain were back and knee, and 38 (22.4%) participants with pain indicated three or more sites of pain. Only 70 (41.2%) participants with pain were on some type of analgesic medication. After adjustment, poor vision (odds ratio (OR) = 2.21; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22–4.00), hypertension (OR = 1.89; 95% CI 1.03–3.45) and heart problems (OR = 2.05; 95% CI 1.01–4.14) were associated with pain. Higher depression scores were associated with more persistent pain, but pain was not significantly associated with clinically relevant depressive symptoms, or requiring assistance with two or more personal and/or instrumental activities of daily living. Conclusion: High levels of pain were reported, although the prevalence of persistent pain was comparable to the general population. Identifying risk factors, improving pain recognition and assessment and evaluating culturally tailored management approaches should be a priority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1092-1100
Number of pages9
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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