A Systematic Review of Barriers and Facilitators of Pain Management in Persons with Dementia

Published:January 09, 2023DOI:


      • Cognitive and functional impairment in persons living with dementia impact their pain expression.
      • Healthcare workers’ knowledge and collaboration impact pain management in dementia.
      • Understanding the baseline behaviors facilitates pain management in persons living with dementia.
      • Protocols including pain assessment, treatment, and multidisciplinary approaches are recommended.


      Approximately 50% of persons living with dementia experience pain, yet it is frequently undetected and inadequately managed resulting in adverse consequences. This review aims to synthesize evidence on the barriers and facilitators of pain management in persons living with dementia. PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Web of Science datasets were used for article searching. Inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed original articles written in English that examined the barriers and facilitators of pain management for persons living with dementia. The Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool was used to evaluate the quality of the studies. A total of 26 studies were selected, including 18 qualitative and 3 quantitative (all high quality), as well as 5 mixed methods studies (low-to-high quality). Results were categorized into intrapersonal, interpersonal, environmental, and policy categories. Factors that impact pain management in dementia include cognitive and functional impairment, healthcare workers’ knowledge, collaboration and communication, healthcare workers’ understanding of patients’ baseline behaviors, observation of behaviors, pain assessment tool use, pain management consistency, staffing level, pain guideline/policy, and training. Overall, pain management is challenging in persons living with dementia. The results indicate that there is a need for multi-component interventions that involves multidisciplinary teams to improve pain management in persons living with dementia at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, environmental, and policy levels.


      This review systematically synthesized barriers and facilitators of providing pain management in persons living with dementia. Results were presented in intrapersonal, interpersonal, environmental, and policy categories and suggests that multicomponent interventions involving multidisciplinary teams are needed to systematically improve pain management in persons living with dementia.


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