Article Abstract

Does gender affect self-perceived pain in cancer patients? A meta-analysis

Authors: Yusuf Ahmed, Marko Popovic, Bo Angela Wan, Michael Lam, Henry Lam, Vithusha Ganesh, Milica Milakovic, Carlo DeAngelis, Leila Malek, Edward Chow


Background: Pain is reported in approximately 50–70% of cancer patients. Studies on gender differences in perceived pain generally report lower pain thresholds and increased pain prevalence in women, which may be attributed to gender-specific behaviors, stereotypes, and unknown etiological factors. There are sparse and inconclusive results on gender differences in self-perceived pain in the cancer setting. The aim of this article was to examine the effect of gender on baseline perceived pain intensity in cancer patients through a meta-analysis.
Methods: A literature search was conducted using Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials [1947–2016] to identify observational studies and controlled trials that reported on gender-specific pain intensity in cancer patients. Using random-effects modeling, weighted mean differences and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to estimate the effect of gender on pain severity in cancer patients. A P value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Of the 1,911 search results reviewed, 13 studies were included. The weighted mean difference (95% CI) in pain intensity was as follows: −0.26 (95% CI: −0.57 to 0.04, P=0.09) for the 0–10 Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) group (n=3,752, 9 studies). When restricted to only patients with advanced cancer, the weighted mean difference was −0.08 (95% CI: −0.36 to 0.20, P=0.58) (n=2,762, 4 studies). The weighted mean difference in the Brief Pain Inventory scores between males and females was 0.03 (95% CI: −1.23 to 1.29, P=0.96) (n=521, 4 studies).
Conclusions: Baseline perceived pain intensity in cancer patients did not significantly differ based on gender.