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Sex-specific effects of gender identification on pain study recruitment

Mattos Feijó, L., Tarman, G. Z., Fontaine, C., Harrison, R., Johnstone, T. and Salomons, T. V. (2018) Sex-specific effects of gender identification on pain study recruitment. The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society, 19 (2). pp. 178-185. ISSN 1526-5900

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.09.009


Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies show sex differences in pain responses, with women more sensitive to nociceptive stimulation and more vulnerable to long term pain conditions than men. Given evidence that males are culturally reinforced for the ability to endure (or under-report) pain, some of these findings might be explained by socio-cultural beliefs about gender-appropriate behaviour. One potential manifestation of these effects might be differential participation in pain studies, with males adhering to stereotypical masculine roles viewing participation as a way to demonstrate their masculinity. To test this possibility, we assessed gender identification in 137 healthy participants. At the end of the assessment, they were asked if they would like to participate in other research studies. Interested participants were then asked to participate in a study involving administration of pain-evoking stimulation. We compared individuals who agreed to participate in the pain study to those who declined. We observed a significant sex by participation interaction in masculine gender identification, such that males (but not females) who agreed to participate identified significantly more with masculine gender. Among masculine gender traits examined, we found that high levels of aggression and competitiveness were the strongest predictors of pain study participation. Our results suggest that male samples in pain studies might have higher levels of masculine gender identification than the wider male population. Taken together with previous findings of lower pain sensitivity (or reporting) in masculine-identifying males, these results suggest an explanation for some of the sex-related differences observed in pain responses. Perspective : To examine whether sex and gender affect willingness to participate in pain studies, we assessed gender identification in male and female participants, then attempted to recruit them to participate in a pain study. Males who agree to participate in pain studies are significantly higher in masculine gender identification than males who decline to participate or females who agree to participate. Males who agreed to participate were particularly high in aggressiveness and competitiveness.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:73918


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