Psychological Resilience Among Older Adults with Chronic Pain

Date of Conferral







Leann M. Stadtlander


The prevalence of adults 65 years of age and older with significant pain is 25% to 50%,

with many experiencing pain on a daily basis. The financial toll due to chronic pain is

staggering; American's spend nearly $635 billion annually on health care. The purpose of

this mixed methods study was to better understand the relationship between resilience,

general health, and chronic pain in older adults. The quantitative question pertained to the

relationship between resilience and both levels of chronic pain and general health in

elderly chronic pain patients, and the qualitative question addressed participants' lived

experiences of chronic pain. Resilience theory, which suggests that individual strengths

enable people to rise above adversity, grounded the study. Participants were between ages

65 and 75 and were recruited from 3 pain centers and through the Survey Monkey

participant pool; they included 55 older adults with chronic pain who responded to

surveys (including Resilience scale, the Pain Impact Questionnaire-Revised (PIQ-R) Pain

scale, and the Short Form 12 item (version 2) (SF-12v2) Health Survey, and 10 of them

also participated in interviews. Regression analyses found no statistical relationships

between resilience and either chronic pain or general health. Interview participants noted

that to cope with pain they used personal strength, a positive outlook, religion,

spirituality, pain management, physical activity, rest/sleep, managing their life, and

religion and spirituality. Resilient behavior was inherent across various pain diagnoses,

and participants appeared to place a great value in the social networks formed throughout

life. These findings may help medical practitioners have a better understanding of the

relationship between chronic pain and resilience in an aging, at-risk population.

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