Faculty Articles

Exposure to Trauma, PTSD and Persistent Pain in Older Adults: A Systematic Review

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Aggression and Violent Behavior






The following study is a systematic review of the relationship between persistent pain and exposure to interpersonal trauma in older adults. The systematic literature review following PRISMA guidelines enabled us to identify only 3 studies published between 2000 and January 2020 that collected data on both interpersonal trauma and persistent pain in older adults. The examination of this relationship is sparse, yet the empirical support that does exist provides evidence that implies a bidirectional relationship is present between these variables; though, it may be complicated by other age-related factors such comorbid medical conditions (Alamdari & Lagana, 2015). For example, the prevalence of persistent pain conditions appears to increase as the incident exposure to traumatic events increases even after controlling for age as a variable (Atwoli et al., 2016) and it is recognized that cumulative exposure to trauma predicts more severe post-traumatic symptoms (Ogle, Rubin, & Siegler, 2013). Despite these initial findings, this review highlights the paucity of studies examining these factors and underscores the need for additional empirical work in this area. Future work should be designed to better streamline our understanding of how persistent pain is influenced by exposure to trauma and PTSD symptoms and what effect this comorbidity has on individuals later in life as well as how assessment and treatment protocols should be augmented to include these findings.



Peer Reviewed