Extent of and factors associated with pain among older residents in nursing homes in South Korea: A nationwide survey study

Sung Heui Bae, Seyune Lee, Hongsoo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Aim: Pain can have a critical negative impact on the quality of life of institutionalized older people. This study aimed to examine the characteristics of pain and associated factors among older people at nursing homes in Korea. Methods: A nationwide survey was carried out on the functional status of 1444 older residents at 91 nursing homes using the interRAI Long-Term Care Facilities instrument. The frequency, intensity, severity and consistency of pain were assessed, and data on potential attributes at the resident and facility levels were collected. Multivariate and multilevel regression analysis models were developed. Results: More than one-third (36.7%) of older residents had pain. Pain prevalence differed by several sociodemographic and clinical factors, including sex, depressive symptoms, cognition, or whether or not the resident was a Medical Aid beneficiary. Pain prevalence also varied according to nursing home size and location. In the multivariate, multilevel regression analyses, both having severe pain and having consistent pain were positively associated with depressive symptoms, and the pain experience was significantly lower among older residents in nursing homes that met the nursing staffing standard. Conclusions: This is the most comprehensive study on pain assessment in long-term care facilities in Korea using a representative sample so far. Pain is prevalent among nursing home residents in Korea. Besides individual factors, facility characteristics – in particular, meeting the staffing standard – were important to pain control, which implies there is room for improving pain assessment and management through advancing quality of care policies. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2020; 20: 118–124.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-124
Number of pages7
JournalGeriatrics and Gerontology International
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant of the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (Grant number: HI13C2250); and 2016 AXA Award by AXA Research Fund (No.900‐2017006) to the corresponding author. The funding sources had no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Geriatrics & Gerontology International published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Japan Geriatrics Society


  • Asia
  • long-term care
  • pain assessment
  • quality of care
  • staffing standard


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