Management of Chronic Pain in Long-Term Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jennifer A. Knopp-Sihota, Tara MacGregor, Jennifer T.H. Reeves, Megan Kennedy, Ahsan Saleem

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Pain, a complex subjective experience, is common in care home residents. Despite advances in pain management, optimal pain control remains a challenge. In this updated systematic review, we examined effectiveness of interventions for treating chronic pain in care home residents. Design: A Cochrane-style systematic review and meta-analysis using PRISMA guidelines. Setting and Participants: Randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials and intervention studies included care home residents aged ≥60 years receiving interventions to reduce chronic pain. Methods: Six databases were searched to identify relevant studies. After duplicate removal, articles were screened by title and abstract. Full-text articles were reviewed and included if they implemented a pain management intervention and measured pain with a standardized quantitative pain scale. Meta-analyses calculated standardized mean differences (SMDs) using random-effect models. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk-of-Bias Tool 2.0. Results: We included 42 trials in the meta-analysis and described 13 more studies narratively. Studies included 26 nondrug alternative treatments, 8 education interventions, 7 system modifications, 3 nonanalgesic drug treatments, 2 analgesic treatments, and 9 combined interventions. Pooled results at trial completion revealed that, except for nonanalgesic drugs and health system modification interventions, all interventions were at least moderately effective in reducing pain. Analgesic treatments (SMD −0.80; 95% CI −1.47 to −0.12; P = .02) showed the greatest treatment effect, followed by nondrug alternative treatments (SMD −0.70; 95% CI −0.95 to −0.45; P < .001), combined interventions (SMD −0.37; 95% CI −0.60 to −0.13; P = .002), and education interventions (SMD −0.31; 95% CI −0.48 to −0.15; P < .001). Conclusions and Implications: Our findings suggest that analgesic drugs and nondrug alternative pain management strategies are the most effective in reducing pain among care home residents. Clinicians should also consider implementing nondrug alternative therapies in care homes, rather than relying solely on analgesic drug options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1507-1516.e0
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep. 2022


  • Care home
  • chronic pain
  • effectiveness
  • interventions
  • long-term care
  • pain management
  • systematic review


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