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Pain and distress in advanced dementia: choosing the right tools for the job


Jordan, Alice, Regnard, Claud, O'Brien, John T, Hughes, Julian C.


Palliative Medicine, Volume: 26, No.: 7, Pages.: 873-878

Year of Publication



Objective: There is a concern that pain is under-recognized in dementia. However, there may be other causes of distress. We wished to evaluate the utility of a distress tool and a pain tool.; Methods: Nursing home residents with advanced dementia were observed using pain (Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia scale (PAINAD)) and distress (Disability Distress Assessment Tool (DisDAT)) assessment tools. Those in pain were treated. Reassessment occurred at one and three months.; Results: From 79 participants, 13 were assessed as being in pain. Psychosocial factors explained the behaviour of a false positive group. Both tools showed a significant decrease in pain following intervention (p = 0.008). Behaviours were similar in both groups.; Conclusions: Both tools are useful. However, the pain tool also picks up distress, which is not caused by pain. It could potentially lead to false ascriptions of pain. The distress tool picks up a broader array of signs, which may be useful both in practice and in research.;


aged, aged, 80 and over, complications, dementia, detection, diagnosis, female, great britain, humans, male, methods, pain, pain measurement, psychology, psychometrics, sensitivity and specificity, severity of illness index, stress, psychological

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Cohort Study

Type of Outcomes



Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions

End of Life Care

End of Life Care

Palliative Care