Caregiving for older people living with chronic pain: Analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and Health Survey for England

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BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is a disabling condition. Many people with chronic pain seek informal support for everyday activities of daily living. However there remains uncertainty on the type of people with chronic pain who access this support, what types of support they need and who provides such support. The purpose of this analysis was to answer these uncertainties.  

METHODS: Data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) and English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) were accessed. People who reported chronic pain (moderate or above for minimum of 12 months) were identified. From these cohorts, we determined if individuals self-reported receiving informal care. Data on caregiver profiles and caregiving activities were reported through descriptive statistics. Logistic regression analyses were performed to compare health status outcomes between people with pain who received and who did not receive informal care.  

RESULTS: 2178 people with chronic pain from the ELSA cohort and 571 from the HSE cohort were analysed. People who received care were frequently female, older aged with several medical morbidities including musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis. People with chronic pain received informal care for several diverse tasks. Most frequently these related to instrumental activities of daily living such as shopping and housework. They were most frequently provided by partners or their children. Although they reported greater disability and symptoms (p<0.001), people who received care did not report differences in health status, loneliness or wellbeing (p=0.27; p=0.46).  

CONCLUSIONS: Whilst it may be possible to characterise people living in chronic pain who receive informal care, there is some uncertainty on the impact of informal caregiving on their health and wellbeing. Consideration should now be made on how best to support both care recipients and informal caregivers, to ensure their health and quality of life is promoted whilst living with chronic pain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-181
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Pain
Issue number2
Early online date6 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Persistent pain
  • support
  • care
  • family network
  • national cohort

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