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The roles of gender and profession on gender role expectations of pain in health care professionals

Authors Wesolowicz DM, Clark JF, Boissoneault J, Robinson ME

Received 10 January 2018

Accepted for publication 11 April 2018

Published 15 June 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 1121—1128

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S162123

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval


Danielle M Wesolowicz, Jaylyn F Clark, Jeff Boissoneault, Michael E Robinson

Department of Clinical Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Introduction: Gender-related stereotypes of pain may account for some assessment and treatment disparities among patients. Among health care providers, demographic factors including gender and profession may influence the use of gender cues in pain management decision-making. The Gender Role Expectations of Pain Questionnaire was developed to assess gender-related stereotypic attributions of pain regarding sensitivity, endurance, and willingness to report pain, and has not yet been used in a sample of health care providers. The purpose of this study was to examine the presence of gender role expectation of pain among health care providers. It was hypothesized that health care providers of both genders would endorse gender stereotypic views of pain and physicians would be more likely than dentists to endorse these views.
Methods: One-hundred and sixty-nine providers (89 dentists, 80 physicians; 40% women) were recruited as part of a larger study examining providers’ use of demographic cues in ­making pain management decisions. Participants completed the Gender Role Expectations of Pain Questionnaire to assess the participant’s views of gender differences in pain sensitivity, pain endurance, and willingness to report pain.
Results: Results of repeated measures analysis of variance revealed that health care providers of both genders endorsed stereotypic views of pain regarding willingness to report pain (F(1,165)=34.241, P<0.001; d=0.479). Furthermore, female dentists rated men as having less endurance than women (F(1,165)=4.654, P=0.032; d=0.333).
Conclusion: These findings affirm the presence of some gender-related stereotypic views among health care providers and suggest the presence of a view among health care providers that men are underreporting their pain in comparison to women. Future work can refine the effects of social learning history and other psychosocial factors that contribute to gender and provider differences in pain management decisions.

Keywords: gender, pain, expectations, physicians, dentists

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