Brazilian Journal of Pain
Brazilian Journal of Pain
Review Article

Gender role in pain perception and expression: an integrative review

Papel do gênero na percepção e expressão da dor: revisão integrativa

Michele Gomes Nascimento; Maurício Kosminsky; Michele Chi

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Gender seems to play a role in influencing the response to experimental pain, although this influence is not very clear yet. Therefore, the objective of the present review was to investigate the contribution of the gender construct (gender identity/role) in the experience of pain through the selection and analysis of clinical studies on the subject.

CONTENTS: A search was carried out in the databases Medline (via Pubmed), LILACS (via BVS), and PsycINFO. The search used the following descriptors: gender identity, pain, gender role combined by the Boolean operator AND/OR (gender identity) AND pain AND gender role AND pain, in English, Portuguese and Spanish. At the end of the selection, 11 studies were included for this review. All the investigations recovered on the subject are clinical laboratory studies. Regarding the influence of the gender identity and its role in pain perception, most of the studies (91%) show that this variable was a contributing factor to the differences observed in perception (tolerance/pain threshold) and the need to communicate the pain.

CONCLUSION: In experimental pain, a higher degree of femininity or female social roles are associated with lower thresholds and less tolerance to pain, as well as a greater natural tendency to communicate pain sensation. These results are independent of the type of stimulus, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.


Gender and health, Gender identity, Pain


JUSTIFICATIVA E OBJETIVOS: A identidade de gênero e o seu papel aparentam influenciar a resposta à dor experimental, embora ainda não seja claro a magnitude dessa influência. Assim, o objetivo deste estudo foi investigar a influência do construto gênero (identidade/papel de gênero) na experiência da dor mediante a seleção e análise de estudos clínicos sobre o tema.

CONTEÚDO: Foi desenvolvida uma busca nas bases de dados Medline (via Pubmed), LILACS (via BVS), PsycINFO. A busca foi desenvolvida com os seguintes descritores: tender identity, pain, gender role combinados pelo operador booleano AND/OR (gender identity) AND pain OR (gender role) AND pain. Os idiomas selecionados foram inglês, português e espanhol. Ao final da seleção, 11 estudos foram incluídos. Todas as investigações recuperadas sobre a temática compreenderam estudos clínicos laboratoriais. Em relação à influência da identidade e papel de gênero na percepção dolorosa, a maioria dos estudos (91%) encontraram que essa variável foi fator contribuinte para as diferenças observadas na percepção (tolerância/limiar de dor) e necessidade de comunicar a dor.

CONCLUSÃO: Em dor experimental, maior feminilidade ou papéis sociais femininos estão associados a menores limiares e menor tolerância à dor, assim como maior propensão de comunicar a sensação dolorosa. Esses resultados independem do tipo de estímulo, da etnia ou orientação sexual.


Dor, Gênero e saúde, Identidade de gênero


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