Thorsten Nikolaus

Agaplesion Bethesda Krankenhaus, Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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Publications (133)298.98 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: To investigate the relationship between physical activity and two measures of fall incidence in an elderly population using person-years as well as hours walked as denominators and to compare these two approaches. Prospective cohort study with one-year follow-up of falls using fall calendars. Physical activity was defined as walking duration and recorded at baseline over one week using a thigh-worn uni-axial accelerometer (activPAL; PAL Technologies, Glasgow, Scotland). Average daily physical activity was extracted from these data and categorized in low (0-59 min), medium (60-119 min) and high (120 min and more) activity. The ActiFE Ulm study located in Ulm and adjacent regions in Southern Germany. 1,214 community-dwelling older people (≥65 years, 56.4% men). Negative-binomial regression models were used to calculate fall rates and incidence rate ratios for each activity category each with using (1) person-years and (2) hours walked as denominators stratified by gender, age group, fall history, and walking speed. All analyses were adjusted either for gender, age, or both. No statistically significant association was seen between falls per person-year and average daily physical activity. However, when looking at falls per 100 hours walked, those who were low active sustained more falls per hours walked. The highest incidence rates of falls were seen in low-active persons with slow walking speed (0.57 (95% confidence interval (95% CI): 0.33 to 0.98) falls per 100 hours walked) or history of falls (0.60 (95% CI: 0.36 to 0.99) falls per 100 hours walked). Falls per hours walked is a relevant and sensitive outcome measure. It complements the concept of incidence per person years, and gives an additional perspective on falls in community-dwelling older people.
    PLoS ONE 06/2015; 10(6):e0129098. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0129098 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Our objective was to investigate the associations of vitamin D serum levels with dementia and cognitive function in specific domains in community dwelling older adults. Between 2009 and 2010, we conducted a cross-sectional study in 1,373 individuals (56% men) aged 65+ years in the "Activity and Function in the Elderly in Ulm" (ActiFE) study. Dementia was defined as a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score ≤ 24. The 25-OHD serum level [ng/mL] was measured by an electrochemilumineszenz immunoassay (ECLIA). Logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (OR)s for cognitive domains (cut-point: 10th percentile) by serum 25-OHD concentrations (both continuously and by cut-point of 20 ng/ml for vitamin D deficiency). Mean age of the study population was 75.6 (SD 6.6) years. We identified 75 participants (43% women) with dementia. 25-OHD concentrations were significantly lower in the participants with dementia compared to persons with a MMSE score >24. We also observed an association of continuous 25-OHD serum concentrations with prevalence of dementia (crude OR 1.05, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01-1.08, p-value 0.009) per 1 ng/mL decrease, after adjustment the OR was 1.03, 95% CI, 0.995-1.08 (p-value 0.09). Although vitamin D deficiency was tentatively associated with severity of dementia measured by MMSE (OR 1.35, 95% CI, 0.84-2.19), the association was not statistically significant. However, deficits in specific cognitive domains such as executive functions, wordlist encoding, and visual memory (encoding and recall) were significantly associated with low vitamin D concentration. Our results suggest an association between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive function in specific domains in community dwelling older adults.
    Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 02/2015; 45(4). DOI:10.3233/JAD-143219 · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Because of substantial toxicities in older adults, chemotherapy is often omitted while the frequency of radiotherapy changes only minimally. In this study, we addressed the value of different assessments for predicting fatigue after radiotherapy in older breast cancer patients. We included 74 women with primary breast cancer over the age of 65 years treated with radiotherapy (26 % with additional chemotherapy). Assessments were conducted before adjuvant treatment and after radiotherapy. The assessments included the Vulnerable Elders Survey (VES-13), the Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), the EORTC Quality of Life assessment (EORTC-QLQ-C30), a cancer-specific comprehensive geriatric assessment (cancer-specific CGA), and the Fried frailty score. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to assess correlations with the FACIT-fatigue scale. Patients were on average 71 years old (range, 65-86 years). Most tumors (n=62) were classified as intermediate risk according to the St. Gallen consensus. The cancer-specific CGA was best associated with fatigue (p < 0.001, β estimate = 1.75), followed by the Fried frailty score (for the score of 1 versus reference of 2 and higher: p = 0.035, β estimate = - 5.74). There were no significant ceiling effects but there were substantial floor effects for the VES-13, KPS, and frailty score. The cancer-specific CGA and the Fried frailty score (driven mainly by the item "exhaustion") outperformed the other indices in predicting fatigue in a group of rather well-functioning older women with primary breast cancer.
    Zeitschrift für Gerontologie + Geriatrie 01/2015; 48(2). DOI:10.1007/s00391-014-0840-5 · 0.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To analyse the seasonal relationship of objectively measured physical activity with vitamin D status in older persons from Southern Germany (latitude: 48.4°N). Physical activity was assessed in 1193 community-dwelling individuals aged ≥65 years (58% men) over 1 week using a thigh-worn accelerometer. Furthermore, the 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) level was measured. Least-square means of 25(OH)D serum levels were calculated for quartiles of average daily walking duration stratified by season and adjusted for gender, age and body mass index. Participants with prescribed vitamin D supplements were excluded. Statistically significant linear associations between quartiles of walking duration with 25(OH)D serum levels were observed in all seasons but not in summer. Differences in 25(OH)D serum levels between the first and the last quartile were 3.42 ng/mL (p=0.002) in winter, 2.80 ng/mL (p=0.009) in spring, and 3.60 ng/mL (p<0.001) in the fall. The proportion of vitamin D insufficiency (<20 ng/mL) even in the highest quartile of walking duration was 45.3% in winter, 73.7% in spring, 17.4% in summer and 16.5% in the fall. Although a positive dose-response relationship was seen between walking duration and the 25(OH)D serum level for most seasons, vitamin D insufficiency was still very prevalent even in high-active persons during all seasons. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to
    Journal of Epidemiology &amp Community Health 01/2015; 69(4). DOI:10.1136/jech-2014-204632 · 3.50 Impact Factor
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    Michael D. Denkinger · Albert Lukas · Thorsten Nikolaus · Klaus Hauer ·
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    ABSTRACT: Fear of falling (FOF) is an important threat to autonomy. Current interventions to reduce FOF have yielded conflicting results. A possible reason for this discrepancy could be its multi-causality. Some risk factors could have not been identified and addressed in recent studies. The last systematic review included studies until 2006. To identify additional risk factors for FOF and to test those that have been mentioned previously we conducted a systematic literature review. Studies examining FOF in community dwelling older adults between 2006 and October 2013 were screened. Results are summarized with respect to different constructs such as FOF, fall-related self-efficacy/ balance confidence and fear of falling-related activity restriction. Odds ratios and p-values are reported. There is no clear pattern with regard to the different FOF-related constructs studied. The only parameters that were robustly associated across all constructs were female gender, performance-based and questionnaire-based physical function, the use of a walking aid and – less robust – a history of falls and poor self-rated health. Conflicting results have been identified for depression and anxiety, multiple drugs and psychotropic drugs. Other potentially modifiable risk factors were only mentioned in one or two studies and warrant further investigation. Parameters with mainly negative results are also presented. To conclude, only few of the risk factors identified were robustly associated across all FOF-related constructs and should be included in future studies on FOF. Some newer factors have to be tested again in different cohorts. The comprehensive overview might assist in the conceptualization of future studies.
    The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 12/2014; 23(1). DOI:10.1016/j.jagp.2014.03.002 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives To assess insomnia and its correlates as part of the Services and Health for Elderly in Long TERm care (SHELTER) study, funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union.DesignCross-cultural investigation.SettingLong-term care facilities (LTCFs) in eight European countries (Czech Republic, France, Finland, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Italy) and one non-European country (Israel).ParticipantsElderly residents (N = 4,156) of 57 LTCFs.MeasurementsInformation on insomnia, age, sex, activities of daily living (ADLs), cognitive status, depression, major stressful life events, physical activity, fatigue, pain, and sleep medication use was extracted from the International Resident Assessment Instrument (interRAI)LTCF instrument. Rates of insomnia and its correlates were analyzed. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess factors associated with insomnia, controlling for demographic variables.ResultsThe prevalence of insomnia was 24% (range 13–30%), with significant differences between countries (P < .001). More insomnia complaints were reported in older than younger residents (P < .001). Higher rates of insomnia were associated with hypnosedatives and depression in all countries (P < .001) and with stressful life events, fatigue, and pain in most countries (P < .001). No associations were found between insomnia and ADLs, physical activity, or cognitive status. Age, depression, stressful life events, fatigue, pain and hypnosedatives were independent significant predictors of insomnia, controlling for all other variables and for country.Conclusion Hypnosedatives and depression were strong predictors of insomnia beyond cultural differences. Overall, psychosocial variables were more strongly related to insomnia than functional and mental capacities.
    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 10/2014; 62(11). DOI:10.1111/jgs.13099 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Increased physical activity is positively associated with better health in community-dwelling older persons. It is unclear whether physical activity also influences success of inpatient rehabilitation. For the assessment of physical activity in inpatient rehabilitation the Physical Activity in Inpatient Rehabilitation Assessment (PAIR), a short questionnaire based on five questions, was developed and preliminary validated. In this study, the PAIR was validated against a sensor-based physical activity measurement. Seventy functionally impaired and cognitively mostly intact patients of a German geriatric inpatient rehabilitation clinic who had undergone hip surgery (n=62 women, median age=83 years) participated. Physical activity was measured using the PAIR and a sensor-based activity monitor (Physilog (R); BioAGM, CH). Assessments were conducted at admission (T1) and 2 weeks later (T2) during the rehabilitation process. To assess concurrent and predictive validity, Spearman correlations and linear regression models were calculated using sensor-based walking activity and uptime activity (walking and standing time) as dependent variables. Criterion-related concurrent validity using physical activity sensors was weak to moderate. Correlations were slightly higher at T2 (r=0.45-0.53) than at T1 (r=0.44-0.46). The objectively measured variance of physical activity, explained by the PAIR, ranged from 25 to 43%. PAIR activity scores and sensor-based walking or total activity increased in a dose-dependent manner, confirming the scoring system of the PAIR. The application time was usually less than 2 min. The validity of the PAIR is weak to moderate when compared to a sensor-based activity monitor and comparable to existing physical activity assessments for community-dwelling older adults.
    European Review of Aging and Physical Activity 10/2014; 11(2):133-139. DOI:10.1007/s11556-014-0137-0 · 0.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: the objective of the study was to compare the strength of the association of different pain dimensions with depression in older adults. Methods: assessments including evaluation of pain (severity, frequency, chronicity, quality, pain medication, painful body sites) and depression (measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) were performed in an observational study in community dwelling older adults (sample mean age 76, n = 1130) in Germany. The associations of different dimension of pain with depression were assessed using descriptive and multivariate methods. Results: the number of painful body areas was most significantly associated with self-reported late life depression (OR 1.20, CI 1.11-1.31). Pain severity and frequency (OR 1.12, CI 1.01-1.23 and OR 1.18, CI 1.01-1.37) were also associated with depression; quality and duration were not. Except for severity (OR 1.12, CI 1.02-1.24) associations of pain dimensions were strongly reduced when controlling for relevant confounders and gender was an effect modifier. Conclusions: multisite pain, pain severity and frequency were the best predictors of late life depression. Clinicians should be especially aware of depressive disorders when older patients are complaining of pain in multiple areas across the body.
    Age and Ageing 07/2014; 43(4):510-514. DOI:10.1093/ageing/afu013 · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: poor physical performance (PP) is known to be associated with disability, lower quality of life and higher mortality rates. Knee and hip osteoarthritis (OA) might be expected to contribute to poor PP, through joint pain and restricted range of movement. Both clinical and self-reported OA are often used for large-scale community and epidemiological studies. Objective: to examine the relationships between hip and knee OA and PP in a large data set comprising cohorts from six European countries. Methods: a total of 2,942 men and women aged 65-85 years from the Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and theUK were recruited. Assessment included an interview and clinical assessment for OA. PP was determined from walking speed, chair rises and balance (range 0-12); low PP was defined as a score of =9. Results: the mean (SD) age was 74.2 (5.1) years. Rates of self-reported OA were much higher than clinical OA. Advanced age, female gender, lower educational attainment, abstinence from alcohol and higher body mass index were independently associated with low PP. Clinical knee OA, hip OA or both were associated with a higher risk of low PP; OR (95% CI) 2.93 (2.36, 3.64), 3.79 (2.49, 5.76) and 7.22 (3.63, 14.38), respectively, with relationships robust to adjustment for the confounders above as well as pain. Conclusion: lower limb OA at the hip and knee is associated with low PP, and for clinical diagnosis relationships are robust to adjustment for pain. Those at highest risk have clinical OA at both sites. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved.
    Age and Ageing 06/2014; 43(6). DOI:10.1093/ageing/afu068 · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Summary This prospective study in elderly showed that kidney function plays a minor role in explaining the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency seen in noninstitutionalized elderly subjects. However, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were clearly inversely associated with risk for first fall, which was especially seen in subjects with calcium levels above median. Introduction Few prospective studies in elderly exist that have investigated the association of renal dysfunction and vitamin D status on risk of falls. The aim of this study is to evaluate the association of renal function with 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D) levels and, secondly, to assess the role of both factors on the risk of falls and subsequent bone fractures. Methods This is a prospective population-based cohort study among noninstitutionalized elderly subjects during a 1-year follow-up. 25-OH-D levels and renal function were estimated, the latter by cystatin C-based equations. Information on falls was assessed prospectively. Results Overall, 1,385 subjects aged 65 and older were included in the study (mean age 75.6 years), of whom 9.2 % had a 25-OH-D serum level above 75 nmol/L (US units 30 ng/mL); 41.4 %, between 50 and 75 nmol/L (US units 20 to 29 ng/mL, insufficiency); and 49.4 %, Conclusions We demonstrated an association of 25-OH-D serum levels and risk of first fall, which was especially evident in subjects with serum calcium in upper normal, independent of renal function.
    Osteoporosis International 03/2014; 25(3). DOI:10.1007/s00198-013-2565-5 · 4.17 Impact Factor

  • European geriatric medicine 09/2013; 4:S28. DOI:10.1016/j.eurger.2013.07.090 · 0.73 Impact Factor

  • European geriatric medicine 09/2013; 4:S64. DOI:10.1016/j.eurger.2013.07.211 · 0.73 Impact Factor
  • A. Lukas · B. Mayer · G. Onder · R. Bernabei · M.D. Denkinger · T. Nikolaus ·

    European geriatric medicine 09/2013; 4:S17. DOI:10.1016/j.eurger.2013.07.041 · 0.73 Impact Factor
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    European geriatric medicine 09/2013; 4:S12-S13. DOI:10.1016/j.eurger.2013.07.027 · 0.73 Impact Factor

  • Alzheimer's and Dementia 07/2013; 9(4):P619. DOI:10.1016/j.jalz.2013.05.1251 · 12.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To identify pharmacological and nonpharmacological pain management approaches and associated factors in nursing home residents across Europe. Setting, participants, and measurements: Cross-sectional study with 4156 residents who were assessed using the interRAI instrument for Long Term Care Facilities (interRAI LTCF), including pharmacological and nonpharmacological pain management modalities. Those reporting pain were included in the analyses (n = 1900). A deeper analysis was performed for the subsample of residents who reported "current pain," defined as pain at least 1 day within the past 3 days (n = 838), and those who reported "current pain of moderate to severe intensity" (n = 590). Results: Up to 24% of residents who reported pain did not receive any pain medication and up to 11% received it only PRN (as-needed basis), independent of current pain-intensity levels; 61% did not receive any nonpharmacological treatment and 21% received neither pharmacological nor nonpharmacological pain modalities. Considerable differences could be demonstrated across European countries. Factors positively associated with pharmacological pain management were being of female gender, reporting cancer, and having moderate or severe pain. High turnover rates of regular staff and low-to-moderate physicians' availability were negatively associated. Factors positively associated with nonpharmacological treatment were fractures and need of assistance in activities of daily living. Dementia, large nursing home facilities, above-average and high turnover rates of nursing staff, a low physicians' availability, and severe pain intensity were negatively associated. Conclusion: Despite some advances in recent years, pain treatment in European nursing home residents remains to be suboptimal and requires further improvement.
    Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 06/2013; 14(11). DOI:10.1016/j.jamda.2013.04.009 · 4.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is a major contributor to functional impairment and loss of independence in older persons. The European Project on OSteoArthritis (EPOSA) is a collaborative study involving six European cohort studies on ageing. This project focuses on the personal and societal burden and its determinants of osteoarthritis. This paper describes the design of the project, and presents some descriptive analyses on selected variables across countries. Methods/design EPOSA is an observational study including pre-harmonized data from European cohort studies (Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) on older community-dwelling persons aged 65 to 85 years. In total, 2942 persons were included in the baseline study with a mean age of 74.2 years (SD 5.1), just over half were women (51,9%). The baseline assessment was conducted by a face-to-face interview followed by a clinical examination. Measures included physical, cognitive, psychological and social functioning, lifestyle behaviour, physical environment, wellbeing and care utilisation. The clinical examination included anthropometry, muscle strength, physical performance and OA exam. A follow-up assessment was performed 12–18 months after baseline. Discussion The EPOSA study is the first population-based study including a clinical examination of OA, using pre-harmonized data across European countries. The EPOSA study provides a unique opportunity to study the determinants and consequences of OA in general populations of older persons, including both care-seeking and non care-seeking persons.
    BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 04/2013; 14(1):138. DOI:10.1186/1471-2474-14-138 · 1.72 Impact Factor
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    Dr. A. Lukas · T. Niederecker · I. Günther · B. Mayer · T. Nikolaus ·
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    ABSTRACT: Background Pain assessment is a complex procedure in patients with different degrees of cognitive impairment. The challenge is to determine whether self-reporting tools are adequate and to identify the cases in which proxy ratings are necessary. Patients and methods As part of an open, prospective observational study, 178 patients underwent a comprehensive pain assessment consisting of the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS), the Verbal Rating Scale with four and five items (VRS4 and VRS5) and the Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia Scale (PAINAD). Results Even without prior knowledge of a patient’s cognitive impairment, this toolkit can be used to reliably identify cases where self-rating is appropriate and where proxy rating becomes necessary. Inter-rater reliability: “good” agreement [Cohen’s κ = 74.2% (p < 0.001) (95%CI, 54.6–93.8%)], test–retest reliability: “moderate” agreement [κ = 55.3% (p < 0.001) (95%CI, 28.5–82.1%)]. Furthermore, movement resulted in a higher correlation between the selected assessments. Self-report assessments are appropriate up to a mini-mental state examination (MMSE) value greater than ten. In comparison to NRS, VRS4 and VRS5 remain more stable as the degree of cognitive impairment increases. Conclusions In the majority of the cases, our approach enables reliable appropriate pain assessment without the strict prerequisite of an upstream cognitive assessment.
    Zeitschrift für Gerontologie + Geriatrie 04/2013; 46(3). DOI:10.1007/s00391-013-0475-y · 0.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: from a clinical and public health perspective, it is important to understand the influence of seasonality on the serum vitamin D level to adequately assess and interpret an individual measurement. Therefore, the aim of this study was to analyse the effects of seasonal conditions on 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) serum levels in a population-based cohort of older people. Methods: between March 2009 and April 2010 the 25(OH)D serum level was assessed in 1,418 community-dwelling individuals living in Germany aged ≥65 years (56.7% men) with no subscribed vitamin D supplementation. Least-square means of monthly 25(OH)D serum levels with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated, adjusted for gender, age and body mass index. Additionally, the proportion of vitamin deficiency (<20 ng/ml), insufficiency (20-<30 ng/ml) and sufficiency (30 ng/ml or higher) were estimated for each month. Finally, mean values of daily total global solar radiation and daylight were calculated for each month. Results: the minimum 25(OH)D serum level was observed in March with 15.4 ng/ml (SD = 6.56 ng/ml) and the maximum in August with 25.6 ng/ml (SD = 6.59 ng/ml). Compared with daylight and global solar radiation the progression over the year was similar but delayed by ∼2 months. The proportion of vitamin D deficiency, insufficiency and sufficiency were 78.8, 19.2 and 1.9% in March and 16.1, 63.4 and 20.5% in August, respectively. Conclusion: vitamin D insufficiency was very common in this cohort and showed a strong seasonal effect with lowest values in March.
    Age and Ageing 03/2013; 42(3). DOI:10.1093/ageing/aft042 · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective and design: Few studies have compared cross-national characteristics of residents with pain in European long term care facilities. The SHELTER project, a cross-national European study on nursing home residents, provides the opportunity to examine this issue. The present study aimed to evaluate key figures about pain and compare them with seven European countries and Israel. Setting, participants, and measurements: A total of 3926 nursing home residents were assessed by the interRAI instrument for Long Term Care Facilities (interRAI LTCF). Prevalence of pain, frequency, intensity, consistency, and control were estimated and compared cross-nationally. Correlates between patient-related characteristics and inadequate pain management were tested using bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models. Results: Overall, 1900 (48.4%) residents suffered from pain. Pain prevalence varied significantly among countries, ranging from 19.8% in Israel to 73.0% in Finland. Pain was positively associated with female gender, fractures, falls, pressure ulcers, sleeping disorders, unstable health conditions, cancer, depression, and number of drugs. It was negatively associated with dementia. In a multivariate logistic regression model, all associations remained except for sleeping disorders. Clinical correlations varied considerably among countries. Although in 88.1% of cases, pain was self-rated by the residents as sufficiently controlled, in only 56.8% of cases was pain intensity self-rated as absent or mild. Pain control and intensity improved within 1 year. Conclusion: Pain prevalence is high and varies considerably across Europe. Although most residents considered pain as adequately controlled, a closer look confirmed that many still suffer from high pain intensities. Analyzing the reasons behind these differences may help to improve pain management.
    Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 01/2013; 14(6). DOI:10.1016/j.jamda.2012.12.010 · 4.94 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
298.98 Total Impact Points


  • 2010-2015
    • Agaplesion Bethesda Krankenhaus
      Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
    • Bethesda Family Medicine Residency
      Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
  • 1998-2015
    • Universität Ulm
      • • Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry
      • • Centre of Geriatrics
      Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 1994-1996
    • Universität Heidelberg
      • Geriatric Center
      Heidelburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 1995
    • Cardiovascular Center Bethanien
      Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany
  • 1993
    • Institut für Herzinfarktforschung
      Mayence, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany