Research: AUSTRIAN and co-workers,

Listed in Issue 119


AUSTRIAN and co-workers, Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology, Weill Medical College, Cornell University, New York, New York 10021, USA, have explored the perceived barriers to self-management of chronic pain in the elderly.


The aim of this study was to examine older persons' willingness to participate in exercise and relaxation programmes for managing chronic pain; to identify characteristics associated with willingness to participate; and to ascertain their barriers to participation.


68 chronic pain outpatients over the age of 70 were surveyed. Their level of willingness to participate in the programmes was assessed, and information about their demographic, clinical, psychological, and pain status was obtained. Qualitative methods were used to ascertain participants' perceived barriers to participation.


Although only 16% of participants reported current use of exercise as a pain-management strategy, 73% reported a willingness to try the exercise programme. 4% reported current use of relaxation methods; 70% reported an interest in learning these techniques. Moderate correlations were found between increasing days of restricted activity due to pain and greater willingness to participate. 17 unique barriers were identified; the mean number of barriers reported per person was about 3 for exercise and about 2 for relaxation. Commonly reported barriers to participating in either programme included time conflicts, transport, treatment efficacy concerns, and fear of pain or injury.


Older primary care patients with chronic pain are willing to try exercise and relaxation therapies to help manage pain but report a substantial number of barriers to participating in these activities. Addressing these barriers could improve engagement in and adherence to exercise and relaxation therapies in the management of pain in the elderly.


Austrian JS, Kerns RD, Reid MC. Perceived barriers to trying self-management approaches for chronic pain in older persons. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 53 (5): 856-861, May 2005.


The benefits of exercise and relaxation therapies are significant, and thus it is important to make all effort to accommodate and surmount barriers to such activitives.

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