Sex differences in perceptions of pain coping strategy usage

Edmund Keogh, Sarah Denford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (SciVal)


Sex differences are generally found in the perception and experience of pain, with women reporting more intense and frequent pain than men. One reason why such differences may occur has been linked to socially-acquired gender-role expectations associated with pain. Although there is evidence that men and women report using different pain coping strategies, we do not know the extent to which gender-specific expectations are associated with pain-related coping. The current study sought to examine this in more detail by administering a standard pain coping measures on three separate occasions, but with different instructions. Hundred and twenty two participants (57 male, 65 female) were asked to complete the coping measure as themselves, then again as they would expect the typical man and the typical woman to complete it. Results indicated that there were no significant differences between men and women in their own self-reported usage of pain coping strategies. However, there was general evidence to suggest that there are differences in stereotypical views of how men and women are thought to cope with pain. Furthermore, sex differences were also found in how participants viewed their own coping behaviours in comparison to that of the typical man and typical woman. These results confirm that alongside pain, men and women hold different gender-specific expectations with respect to certain pain coping strategies. Future research is required to examine whether these different coping expectations influence an individuals own choice of strategy, and whether this in turn affects actual pain experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-634
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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