The temporal relationship between pain intensity and pain interference and incident dementia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic pain is common among older adults and is associated with cognitive dysfunction based on cross-sectional studies. However, the longitudinal association between chronic pain and incident dementia in community-based samples is unknown. Objective: We aimed to evaluate the association of pain intensity and pain interference with incident dementia in a community-based sample of older adults. Methods: Participants were 1,114 individuals 70 years of age or older from Einstein Aging Study (EAS), a longitudinal cohort study of community-dwelling older adults in the Bronx County, NY. The primary outcome measure was incident dementia, diagnosed using DSM-IV criteria. Pain intensity and interference in the month prior to first annual visit were measured using items from the SF-36 questionnaire. Pain intensity and pain interference were assessed as predictors of time to incident dementia using Cox proportionate hazards models while controlling for potential confounders. Results: Among participants, 114 individuals developed dementia over an average 4.4 years (SD=3.1) of follow-up. Models showed that pain intensity had no significant effect on time to developing dementia, whereas higher levels of pain interference were associated with a higher risk of dementia. In the model that included both pain intensity and interference as predictors of incident dementia, pain interference had a significant effect on incident dementia, and pain intensity remained non-significant. Conclusion: As a potential remediable risk factor, the mechanisms linking pain interference to cognitive decline merit further exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Alzheimer research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Pain intensity
  • Pain interference
  • Remediable risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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