Treatment of pain in cognitively impaired compared with cognitively intact older patients with hip-fracture

Karen S. Feldt, Muriel B. Ryden, Steven Miles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

250 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To compare the experience of pain and treatment of pain in cognitively impaired and cognitively intact older adults after surgical repair of a hip fracture. DESIGN: Prospective comparative survey design. PARTICIPANTS: A convenience sample of 88 hip fracture patients (53 cognitively impaired, 35 cognitively intact) from three Midwestern urban hospital orthopedic units was interviewed between days 2 and 5 postoperatively. Subjects whose Folstein Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) score was less than or equal to 23 were categorized as impaired. RESULTS: Pain report and intensity did not differ significantly between the two groups. One-third of the subjects in both groups rated pain as severe or worse. Cognitively impaired subjects scored significantly higher on the Checklist of Nonverbal Pain Indicators observed with movement (CNPI-m) than did cognitively intact subjects. Cognitively impaired subjects received significantly less opioid analgesics than cognitively intact subjects in the first and second 48 hours postoperatively. Both groups received less than 25 % of the mean prescribed amount of opioid analgesics. Age, MMSE, and CNPI-m score accounted for 27% of the variance in the amount of opioid analgesic administered in the first 48 hours postoperatively. CONCLUSIONS: Pain is treated poorly in older postoperative patients. Cognitive impairment and age strongly influence the amount of analgesic nurses administer to older patients after surgical repair of hip fracture. Provision for patient comfort is a fundamental ethical obligation of healthcare providers. Clinicians need to pursue this goal more aggressively, especially for cognitively impaired, postoperative older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1085
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1998


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