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The relation of age on the treatment of patients presenting to the emergency department with pain: a comparison of emerging adults and adults

key information

source: The Journal of Pain

year: 2014

authors: S. Kapoor, B. Thorn, P. Block, J. White

summary/abstract:

Oligoanalgesia is a significant problem in the Emergency Departments (ED). Previous research has indicated that children and adolescents are more likely to experience under-treatment of pain in the ED due to a variety of factors. It is likely that emerging adults, individuals aged between 18 and 29 years, experience similar age-related disparities. However, there is a paucity of literature examining the experience of emerging adults in context of pain treatment during ED visits.

The present study aimed to compare emerging adults presenting to the ED with a primary complaint of pain to adults (patients 30 years and older) in terms of pain variables and treatment. Forty-two emerging adults and 83 adults were recruited for the study. The mean ages of emerging adults was 23.56, with adults averaging 44.87. Participants completed a packet of demographic and pain-related psychosocial measures. Additionally, information about ED analgesic administration was obtained from the medical records. Chi-square analyses revealed that emerging adults were three times more likely to present with pain due to an acute etiology (82%) as compared to only 59% adults (41% presented with exacerbations of chronic pain).

Although self-reported pain intensity at triage, duration of current episode of pain, and pain catastrophizing was not significantly different between the two groups, emerging adults were 3.41 times less likely to receive analgesics during the ED visit. Furthermore, emerging adults reported significantly lower levels of state anxiety as well as lower scores on the sensory and affective scales on the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form. Results suggest that, similar to children and adolescents, emerging adults may be at a greater risk for treatment disparities in the ED. In the future, studies should examine the extent of such disparities and ways to promote adequate analgesia across age groups.

organisation: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2014.01.009

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