Does pain mediate or moderate the protective effects of physical activity on depressive symptoms in older people?

CARDI Involvement
CARDI grant programme


  • Division of Population Health Sciences (Psychology)
    RCSI - Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • Professor Ronan Conroy, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, RCSI
  • Dr Anne Hickey, Psychology, RCSI
  • Dr Caroline Kelleher, Psychology, RCSI


  • Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Ireland

Project Lead

Dr Frank Doyle, Psychology, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland



Funding source

CARDI - Data Mining 2013





Last updated

6th May 2014
Moderate to high levels of physical activity can reduce the odds of having depression by half or more. Pain has been shown to be associated with a greater risk of depression among older people and also a potential reason for not engaging in physical activity.

Dr Doyle will investigate the extent to which pain interacts with depression and physical activity in Ireland, north and south, which has potentially crucial clinical and policy implications for older people.


Key findings

  • Pain is associated with increased risk for depressive symptoms in older people and is also a potential reason for non-engagement in physical activity (Mossey et al., 2000).
  • In the Republic of Ireland, 33% of adults over 50 engage in none or only low levels of physical activity (TILDA, 2011).
  • In Northern Ireland, 55% engage in low or no levels of physical activity (DHSSPS, 2011).
  • In the Republic of Ireland, three quarters of older adults reported none or only mild pain in the past week compared to 45% of older adults in Northern Ireland.
  • Severe pain or discomfort was reported by 9% of Republic of Ireland older adults and 11% of Northern Ireland older adults (TILDA, 2011) (DHSSPS, 2011).
Read the full report and research brief here.