Research into pain in 230 people with dementia at two hospitals, conducted by University College London, indicates that the occurrence of pain experienced in hospitals may be significantly under-reported. This observational study found around two-thirds (57%) of people with dementia experience pain, but less than 40% are able to report it.
The same researchers found an association between pain and the expression of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), such as aggression, agitation and anxiety. BPSD can reflect undetected or under-managed pain, and behaviours perceived as “difficult” can – in turn – contribute to a cycle of poor care in stressful and busy hospital environments.
Reference: Sampson, EL. White, N. [and] Lord, K. [et al] (2015). Pain, agitation, and behavioural problems in people with dementia admitted to general hospital wards: a longitudinal cohort study. PAIN. April 2015, Vol.156(4), pp.675–683.