Frequency and Predictors of Analgesic Prescribing in U.S. Nursing Home Residents with Persistent Pain

Kevin M. Fain, G. Caleb Alexander, David D. Dore, Jodi B. Segal, Andrew R. Zullo, Carlos Castillo-Salgado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To quantify prescription analgesic use of elderly nursing home (NH) residents with persistent noncancer pain and to identify individual and facility traits associated with no treatment. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Linked Minimum Data Set (MDS) assessments; Online Survey, Certification and Reporting (OSCAR) records; and Medicare Part D claims. Participants: Individuals aged 65 and older with persistent noncancer pain were identified from a cross-section of all long-stay U.S. NH residents with an MDS assessment and Medicare Part D enrollment in 2008, excluding those who were terminally ill, those with Alzheimer's disease, and those with the most-severe cognitive impairment. Measurements: Residents with moderate to severe daily pain on consecutive assessments at least 90 days apart constituted the cohort with persistent pain. Part D dispensing for an opioid or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) within 30 days of persistent pain onset was identified. Information on resident and facility characteristics was obtained from MDS and OSCAR records. Associations between resident and facility attributes and pain treatment were estimated using multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression analyses. Results: Of the study sample of 18,526 residents with persistent pain, 3,094 (16.7%) did not receive prescription analgesics, 12,815 (69.2%) received a prescription opioid, 485 (2.6%) received a prescription NSAID, and 2,132 (11.5%) received a prescription opioid and NSAID. After adjusting for potentially confounding covariates, residents who were older (≥95, odds ratio (OR) = 2.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.70–2.49), more cognitively impaired (moderately severe cognitive impairment, OR = 2.12, 95% CI = 1.71–2.62), or black (OR = 1.20, 95% CI = 1.03–1.39) or Asian (OR = 1.97, 95% CI = 1.22–3.20) were less likely to receive a prescription analgesic. Conclusion: Through 2008, pain remained undertreated in NHs, especially in certain subpopulations, including cognitively impaired and older residents. Changes in pain management practice and policies may be necessary to target these vulnerable residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-293
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • health disparities
  • nursing homes
  • persistent pain
  • prescription opioids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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