Are There Gender Differences in Pain Perception?

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Abstract:Chronic pain conditions are increasingly prevalent. However, very little is known about the relationship between pain and gender. The purposes of this study were to determine gender differences in pain threshold and tolerance among Chinese adults in Hong Kong and to examine the role of anxiety in pain perception. One hundred seventy–eight healthy, pain–free adults (89 men and 89 women) were recruited from a local university by convenience sampling to participate in the study. All participants completed the State and Trait Anxiety Inventory and underwent a laboratory pain task to determine their pain threshold and tolerance levels. Pain was assessed by using the Pain Intensity Verbal Rating Scale–Chinese version. Compared to men, women had a lower threshold (p < .001) and tolerance (p < .001) for pressure pain, and women reported more pain (p < .01) at the pain tolerance level. Higher trait anxiety scores were associated with higher pain report in men only (r [89] = .22, p = .04). The study indicated that gender differences in pain perception exist among the Chinese population in Hong Kong. A better understanding of the factors that contribute to gender differences in pain perception could reduce gender bias in pain management.

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