The Gender Context of Pain

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Pain is a major source of global suffering, with women bearing the greatest burden. Alongside biology, psychological and social factors, including gender, help explain these differences. However, there has been no direct attempt to develop a unified social psychological model of men and women’s pain. By drawing on approaches to both gender and pain, a gender context model of pain is presented. It proposes that pain is partly influenced by the gender context in which it occurs, which operates at both individual and interpersonal levels. The model is used to structure an appraisal of the existing evidence around gender and pain, and explore whether the model helps explain why such variation occurs. It is argued that despite evidence for an association between gender and pain, there are empirical gaps that need to be addressed. Implications and directions for future investigations into sex, gender and pain are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-481
Number of pages28
JournalHealth Psychology Review
Issue number3
Early online date8 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • Pain
  • femininity
  • gender
  • masculinity
  • sex
  • social context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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