2022-02-24Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/24491
Trajectories of Pain in Very Old Age: The Role of Eudaimonic Wellbeing and Personality
Pain is common in very old age and in the last years prior to death. However, little is known regarding longitudinal trajectories of pain in very old age and at the end of life. Moreover, whereas medical and morbidity-related factors contributing to pain are established, the role of psychosocial factors, such as eudaimonic wellbeing or personality as potential determinants of late-life pain trajectories has so far not been sufficiently investigated. We used data from the LateLine project. The sample consisted of n = 118 very old adults (M = 90.5 years, SD = 2.8 years) who were living alone at baseline and who had died between 2009 and 2021. They took part in up to 16 measurement occasions (M = 5.2, SD = 4.7, range 1–16) within an observational interval of 7 years. Assessment of pain was based on the SF-36 bodily pain subscale. Key indicators of eudaimonic wellbeing (autonomy, environmental mastery, and purpose in life) as well two of the Big Five personality traits (neuroticism and extraversion) were included as predictors. We controlled in all analyses for gender, education, subjective health, and depressive symptoms. Contrasting pain trajectories over chronological age (time since birth) vs. time to death, a time-to-death-related model resulted in a better model fit and accounted for a larger amount of pain variability than the age-related model. Mean-level change in pain, both over age and time to death, was not significant, but there was substantial interindividual variability in intraindividual trajectories. Age-related change in pain was significantly predicted by autonomy and neuroticism, with increasing pain among those who had lower initial autonomy scores and higher initial neuroticism scores. With regard to time-to-death-related trajectories of pain, higher purpose in life as well as lower extraversion at baseline predicted less increase or even steeper decrease in pain with approaching death. Our findings suggest that, despite overall mean-level stability in pain both over age and time to death, there is a substantial proportion of individuals who reveal deterioration in pain over time. Regarding the role of psychosocial predictors, personality traits and eudaimonic wellbeing are related with late-life pain trajectories both over age and time-to-death.
This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.