Document Type


Publication Date



Pain, Physical Activity, Older People, Depression


This project was funded under the CARDI Data Mining Programme 2013.

The report is also available at ,

There is a research brief at,


A recent study involving participants 50 years and older from Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (RoI) (N=6159) found core depressive symptoms (i.e. depressed mood and anhedonia) in 7.2% of their nationally representative sample (Morgan, O’Farrell, Doyle and McGee, 2011). This study also showed that those who were engaged in moderate to high levels of physical activity (PA) had a 50-56% reduction in the odds of having elevated depressive symptoms compared to those with low levels of PA (Morgan et al., 2011). Unfortunately, the analyses omitted a potentially significant explanatory variable – pain. Pain has been shown to be associated with increased risk for depression in older persons (Bair, Robinson, Katon and Kroenke, 2003; Onder, Landi, Gambassi, et al., 2005), and is also a potential reason for nonengagement in PA (Mossey, Gallagher and Tirumalasetti, 2000). It could therefore interact with (mediate or moderate the association between) depression and PA. This report details a set of analyses that investigates this in three nationally representative datasets of older adults from both the RoI and NI.




Kelleher C, Hickey A, Conroy R, Doyle F. Does pain mediate or moderate the relationship between physical activity and depressive symptoms in older people? A project funded by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI). Dublin: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 2013.

Included in

Psychology Commons