The effectiveness of psychological treatments for chronic pain in older adults: cautious optimism and an agenda for research

Brian E McGuire, Michael K Nicholas, Ali Asghari, Bradley M Wood, Chris J. Main

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To explores the potential role of psychological treatments for older people who are affected by chronic pain.

RECENT FINDINGS: It is now widely recognized that chronic pain is a highly prevalent health problem among older people, and guidelines have evolved to assist with the assessment and management of chronic pain. However, despite the fact that psychological treatments have been shown to be effective for a range of other conditions such as depression and anxiety, there is a relative paucity of studies focused on pain management. Although more evidence is needed, the trend from existing studies indicates that older people find psychological treatments for chronic pain to be relevant, acceptable in content, and beneficial in reducing distress and disability. Particular challenges arise for the delivery of psychological interventions to people with pain and cognitive impairment associated with dementia. There is a growing interest in this population and a good deal of research has focused on the assessment of pain, but with a small number of exceptions, almost no research activity as yet in developing psychological treatments for people with pain and dementia.

SUMMARY: We conclude that there is sufficient evidence that psychological interventions are efficacious for older people with chronic pain. We propose a number of areas for research focus over the next 10 years that will help to consolidate our knowledge and to explore new avenues for the psychological management of chronic pain in older people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-384
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • older adults
  • psychological
  • research
  • treatment


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