The landscape of pain management in people with dementia living in care homes: a mixed methods study

01 Dec 2016
Corbett A, Nunez KM, Smeaton E, Testad I, Thomas AJ, Closs SJ, Briggs M, Clifton L, Gjestsen MT, Lawrence V


Objectives: The aim of this study is to explore the current landscape of pain management in people with dementia living in care home settings. Pain is extremely common in this patient group, yet there is very limited guidance for healthcare professionals.

Methods: Triangulation of stakeholder consultation and quality review of pain management guidance were performed. A review of existing pain management guidance was conducted using published quality criteria adapted for the field. Three focus group discussions were held with care home staff and two focus group discussions and an online survey with family carers. Data were subjected to thematic analysis to identify themes and sub-themes. Outcomes were reviewed by an expert panel, which gave recommendations.

Results: Fifteen existing guidelines were identified, of which three were designed for use in dementia and none were tailored for care home settings. Thematic analysis revealed six major themes in current pain management in dementia: importance of person-centredness, current lack of pain awareness in staff, communication as a core element, disparities in staff responsibility and confidence, the need for consistency of care and current lack of staff training. In addition to the needs for practice, the expert panel identified promising pharmacological treatment candidates, which warrant clinical evaluation.

Conclusions: The findings of this study clearly articulate a need for an evidence-based pain management programme for care homes, which is informed by stakeholder input and based within a conceptual framework for this setting. There are novel opportunities for clinical trials of alternative analgesics for use in this patient group. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.