Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


Women experience more pain than men, study finds

Women report more intense pain than men in virtually every disease category, according to Stanford investigators who mined a huge collection of electronic medical records to establish the broad gender difference.

Their study suggests that stronger efforts should be made to recruit women in population and clinical studies to find out why this gender difference exists.

The Stanford scientists examined more than 160,000 pain scores reported for more than 72,000 adult patients. The study is believed to be the first to use electronic medical records to examine pain on this large a scale or range of diseases.

“We saw higher pain scores for female patients practically across the board,” said Atul Butte, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author. “In many cases, the reported difference approached a full point on a 1-to-10 scale. How big is that? A pain-score improvement of one point is what researchers view as indicating that a pain medication is working.”

While the overall results confirmed previous findings—for example, that female migraine patients report more pain than their male counterparts—the study also found gender differences in pain intensity for particular conditions, such as acute sinusitis and neck pain.

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