Pain and Pain Medication among Older People with Intellectual Disabilities in Comparison with the General Population

Anna Axmon, Gerd Ahlström, Hans Westergren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Little is known about pain and pain treatment among people with intellectual disabilities (IDs). We aimed to describe pain and pain medications among older people with ID compared to the general population. Data on diagnoses and prescriptions were collected from national registers for the period between 2006 and 2012 for 7936 people with an ID and a referent cohort from the general population. IDs were associated with a decreased risk of being diagnosed with headaches, musculoskeletal pain, and pain related to the circulatory and respiratory systems, but they were associated with increased risk of being diagnosed with pain related to the urinary system. Among men, IDs were associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with visceral pain. People with IDs were more likely to be prescribed paracetamol and fentanyl regardless of the type of pain but were less likely to be prescribed COX(1+2) and COX2 inhibitors and weak opioids. Healthcare staff and caregivers must be made aware of signs of pain among people with IDs who may not be able to communicate it themselves. Further research is needed to investigate whether people with IDs are prescribed paracetamol rather than other pain drugs due to physicians trying to avoid polypharmacy or if there are other reasons not to prescribe a greater range of pain treatments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number67
Pages (from-to)1-12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 15

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • cognitive dysfunction
  • fentanyl
  • headache
  • musculoskeletal pain
  • paracetamol
  • visceral pain


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