OBJECTIVE: To assess, in two studies, whether there are any age differences in beliefs about the role of psychological, organic and ageing factors in the experience of chronic pain.SUBJECTS: Healthy adults free from chronic pain ranging in age from 18 to 86 years (first study); adults with chronic pain due to arthritis, fibromyalgia or other rheumatological disorders ranging in age from 27 to 79 years (second study).MATERIALS: In both studies, subjects completed the Pain Beliefs Questionnaire which was modified to measure beliefs about the relationship between pain and ageing. In addition, subjects completed various self-assessments of health, pain intensity and depression. Those with chronic pain also completed the Arthritis Self-Efficacy Scale.RESULTS: There was no evidence of any age differences in beliefs about pain in either the pain-free or chronic pain samples. There was some evidence that elderly patients may report less pain, but there were no age differences found on measures of depression or self-efficacy.CONCLUSIONS: The elderly were no more likely than younger persons to associate pain with the normal ageing process than with organic factors such as tissue damage, nor were they more likely to deny the importance of psychological factors to the pain experience.