Older women's assessment and management of chronic pain in their daily lives

Karen A. Roberto, Lauren S. Ermann, Jyoti Savla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pain is a significant problem in the daily lives of many older women. During in-depth interviews with 41 older women (Mean age 78) living in rural southwest Virginia (US) information was gathered regarding the women's perceptions of pain and the ways in which they manage pain within the context of their daily lives. The majority of women reported pain in their legs and ankles, chest and back, arms and hands, and abdomen and pelvis. They most often described their pain as aching, sharp, and tender. More than one-half also described their pain as tiring and exhausting. The women used two primary types of strategies to manage their pain. Appraisals, or passive approaches, represented an instinctive or visceral response to pain. Actions, or active approaches, denoted strategies the women consciously decided upon with thoughtful regard for how to best continue functioning despite the presence of pain. While many older women used both types of strategies, active strategies, including using medications and modifying daily routine, were used by the greatest number of women. Rather than giving in to the pain, the older women typically focused on ways in which they could best manage their lives in spite of their pain. Findings from this study contribute to knowledge about the ways in which older women manage pain in their daily lives and suggest the importance of future research to further examine the relationship among pain experiences, use of management strategies, and quality of life of older women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-356
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pain Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Daily functioning
  • Elderly women
  • Pain management
  • Pain perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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