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Medical News & Perspectives
July 22/29, 1998

New Guidelines on Managing Chronic Pain in Older Persons

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JAMA. 1998;280(4):311. doi:10.1001/jama.280.4.311

PHARMACOLOGIC therapy is most effective for chronic pain in older persons when it is combined with nonpharmacologic strategies such as education, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and exercise, according to new clinical practice guidelines issued by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) at its annual meeting in Seattle, Wash, in May (J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998;46:635-651).

Persons aged 65 years or older now represent 13% of the US population, and persons aged 50 years or older comprise 25% of the population. The AGS guidelines apply to the larger group, some 70 million persons in the United States. An estimated 25% to 50% of community-dwelling older persons report pain problems, the AGS said. Nearly 1 in 5 persons in the United States aged 65 or older reports taking analgesic medications several times a week, and 3 in 5 of these say they have taken prescription pain medications for more than 6 months, according to a survey conducted for the National Council on Aging (The Study of Pain and Older Americans. New York, NY: Louis Harris & Associates; 1997).

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