Exploring the role of gender and gendered pain expectation in physiotherapy students Academic Article uri icon

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  • Introduction: Gender and gender role pain expectations may influence how health care providers interact with and manage their patients' symptoms. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to describe gendered traits and gender role pain expectations among physical therapy students. Method: A survey assessing gendered traits and gender role expectations in relation to pain was completed by a sample of 171 physical therapy students (120 women, 51 men). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and differences between men and women were tested with chi-square or Kruskal-Wallis. Results: Men and women in physical therapy training were not different on 13 out of 16 of the gendered traits. The exceptions were that men rated themselves as more "decisive" compared to women (mean rank = 103.8 vs. mean rank = 78.4, P = 0.001) and women rated themselves as more "emotional" (mean rank = 91.95 vs. mean rank = 72.01, P = 0.009) and more "nurturing" (mean rank = 90.89 vs. mean rank = 72.91, P = 0.020). No significant differences were found in terms of gendered expectations of pain sensitivity, endurance, or in terms of personal experience of pain between the men and women in the sample. However, the majority (75%) of participants reported that women were more willing to report pain compared to men. Finally, both groups rated themselves as no different in handling pain compared to a typical man or woman. Conclusion: In conclusion, men and women in training to be physical therapists demonstrate similar gendered trait profiles and little gender bias in relation to pain expectations.


  • Sivagurunathan, Marudan
  • MacDermid, Joy
  • Chuang, Joseph Chien Yee
  • Kaplan, Allyssa
  • Lupton, Stephanie
  • McDermid, Deidra

publication date

  • January 1, 2019