Gender primes and self-stigma of seeking help for pain

Axel Vitterso, Omar Yousaf

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background and aims. Sex differences are well documented in pain, although less is known about gender differences. Stigma is central to the experience of pain, and may be influenced by gender roles. This study aimed to investigate the role of gender primes on self-stigma for seeking help for pain (SSOSH) experimentally, hypothesising that, for both sexes, the masculine prime should increase reports of SSOSH. Method. 190 people participated, of which 56.1% women and the mean age was 35.4 (SD=12.99). Stigma was measured using a modified version of SSOSH (Vogel, Wade & Hake, 2006, modified by Keogh & Boerner). An online behavioural recall task was used to deliver a masculine, feminine or neutral prime. Analysis of Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (Pennebaker, Boyd, Jordan & Blackburn, 2015) established that the content of responses collected during the priming task differed between the three conditions. Ethical approval was obtained. Results. There was a significant effect of the prime on SSOSH, F(2,181)=3.47, p=.033, ηp2=.04. Contrary to the hypothesis, post-hoc analysis revealed that this was accounted for by the feminine condition reporting significantly greater SSOSH than the neutral condition. No interactions with sex were observed. Conclusions. The current findings suggest that primed femininity causes greater self-stigma of seeking help for pain. This was not anticipated, as femininity is associated with greater willingness to seek help. However, as it is associated with greater tolerance for stigma, femininity may make stigma less of a barrier to help seeking for pain.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2017
Pain in Europe X: 10th Congress of the European Federation of IASP Chapters (EFIC)
- Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 6 Sept 20179 Sept 2017


Pain in Europe X
Abbreviated titleEFIC


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