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Pain and ED Use in Adults with Dementia

J Pain Symptom Manage; ePub 2018 Sep 14; Hunt, et al

Unmet need for pain management was associated with more frequent emergency department (ED) visits in the last month of life among older adults with dementia, a new study found. The mortality follow-back study included older adults with dementia in the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) who died between 2012-2014. Researchers found:

  • 281 NHATS decedents (mean age 86 years, 61% female, 81% white) with dementia met study criteria.
  • 57% had a least 1 ED visit in the last month of life; 46.5% had an ED visit resulting in a hospital admission.
  • 73% of decedents experienced pain in the last month of life, and 10% had an unmet need for pain management.
  • After adjustments, pain was not associated with increased ED use in the last month of life.
  • However, decedents with unmet need for pain management had an almost 50% higher rate of ED visits in the last month of life than those without unmet needs.


Hunt LJ, Ritchie CS, Cataldo JK, Patel K, Stephens CE, Smith AK. Pain and emergency department use in the last month of life among older adults with dementia. [Published online ahead of print September 14, 2018]. J Pain Symptom Manage. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2018.09.005.