Religious and nonreligious coping in older adults experiencing chronic pain

Karen S Dunn, Ann L Horgas
Pain Management Nursing: Official Journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses 2004, 5 (1): 19-28
Chronic pain is a significant problem among older adults. Undertreated or poorly managed pain can affect the physical, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being of older people. Several researchers have found that individuals turn to a wide array of cognitive and behavioral coping strategies when experiencing high levels of chronic pain. In addition, there is a growing body of evidence that supports an association between health outcomes and the use of religious coping to manage pain. Thus, the purpose of this descriptive, cross-sectional study was to explore the use of religious and nonreligious coping in older people who were experiencing chronic pain. Specific aims were to (a) describe the chronic pain experiences of older people; (b) examine the frequency and type of religious and nonreligious coping strategies used by older people to manage chronic pain; and (c) determine if there were differences in the use of religious and nonreligious coping across gender and race. Mean age of this convenience sample of 200 community-dwelling adults was 76.36 years (SD = 6.55). On average, study participants reported that their pain was of moderate intensity. Lower extremities were the most frequently reported painful body locations. Findings from this study support prior research that suggests older people report using a repertoire of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic strategies to manage chronic pain. Older women and older people of minority racial background reported using religious coping strategies to manage their pain more often than did older Caucasian men. Older women also reported using diversion and exercise significantly more often than did older men.

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