Impact of Physician and Patient Gender on Pain Management in the Emergency Department—A Multicenter Study Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: Pain is a complex experience influenced by factors such as age, race, and ethnicity. We conducted a multicenter study to better understand emergency department (ED) pain management practices and examined the influence of patient and provider gender on analgesic administration. DESIGN: Prospective, multicenter, observational study. SETTING: Consecutive patients, >or=8-years-old, presenting with complaints of moderate to severe pain (pain numerical rating scale [NRS] > 3) at 16 U.S. and three Canadian hospitals. OUTCOMES MEASURES: Receipt of any ED analgesic, receipt of opioids, and adequate pain relief in the ED. RESULTS: Eight hundred forty-two patients participated including 56% women. Baseline pain scores were similar in both genders. Analgesic administration rates were not significantly different for female and male patients (63% vs 57%, P = 0.08), although females presenting with severe pain (NRS >or=8) were more likely to receive analgesics (74% vs 64%, P = 0.02). Female physicians were more likely to administer analgesics than male physicians (66% vs 57%, P = 0.009). In logistic regression models, predictors of ED analgesic administration were male physician (odds ratio [OR] = 0.7), arrival pain (OR = 1.3), number of pain assessments (OR = 1.83), and charted follow-up plans (OR = 2.16). With regard to opioid administration, female physicians were more likely to prescribe opioids to females (P = 0.006) while male physicians were more likely to prescribe to males (P = 0.05). In logistic regression models, predictors of opioids administration included male patient gender (OR = 0.58), male patient-physician interaction (OR = 2.58), arrival pain score (OR = 1.28), average pain score (OR = 1.10), and number of pain assessments (OR = 1.5). Pain relief was not impacted by gender. CONCLUSION: Provider gender as opposed to patient gender appears to influence pain management decisions in the ED.


  • Ducharme, James
  • Safdar, Basmah
  • Heins, Alan
  • Homel, Peter
  • Miner, James
  • Neighbor, Martha
  • DeSandre, Paul
  • Todd, Knox H

publication date

  • March 2009