Depressive symptoms are associated with analgesic use in people with Alzheimer's disease: Kuopio ALSOVA study

Julia Fiona-Maree Gilmartin, Saku Vaatainen, Soili M Tormalehto, J Simon Bell, Eija Lonnroos, Lotta Salo, Ilona T Hallikainen, Janne Martikainen, Anne Koivisto, Hilkka S Soininen, Mikael von und zu Fraunberg, Merja Hallikainen, Asta Hiltunen, Kristiina Hongisto, Tuomo Hanninen, Markku Kalinen, Pertti Karppi, Mari Tikkanen, Tarja Valimaki, Helena Makela

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Neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) such as depression may be associated with pain, which according to the literature may be inadequately recognized and managed in this population. This study aimed to identify the factors associated with analgesic use in persons with AD; in particular, how AD severity, functional status, neuropsychiatric symptoms of AD, co-morbidities and somatic symptoms are associated with analgesic use. 236 community-dwelling persons with very mild or mild AD at baseline, and their caregivers, were interviewed over five years as part of the prospective ALSOVA study. Generalized Estimating Equations (GEEs) were used to estimate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) for the factors associated with analgesic use over a five year follow-up. The proportion of persons with AD using any analgesic was low (13.6%) at baseline and remained relatively constant during the follow-up (15.3% at Year 5). Over time, the most prevalent analgesic changed from non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (8.1% of persons with AD at Year 1) to acetaminophen (11.1% at Year 5). Depressive symptoms (measured by the Beck Depression Inventory, BDI) were independently associated with analgesic use, after effects of age, gender, education, AD severity, comorbidities and somatic symptoms were taken into account. For every one unit increase in BDI, the odds of analgesic use increased by 4% (OR = 1.04, 95% confidence interval CI = 1.02-1.07). Caregiver depressive symptoms were not statistically significantly associated with analgesic use of the person with AD. Depressive symptoms were significantly associated with analgesic use during the five year followup period. Possible explanations warranting investigation are that persons with AD may express depressive symptoms as painful somatic complaints, or untreated pain may cause depressive symptoms. Greater awareness of the association between depressive symptoms and analgesic use may lead to safer and more effective prescribing for these conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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