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Gender Differences Associated with Pain Characteristics and Treatment in Taiwanese Oncology Outpatients

  • Liang, Shu-Yuan (College of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences) ;
  • Wang, Tsae-Jyy (College of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences) ;
  • Wu, Shu-Fang (College of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences) ;
  • Chao, Ta-Chung (Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University) ;
  • Chuang, Yeu-Hui (School of Nursing, College of Nursing, Taipei Medical University) ;
  • Tsay, Shiow-Luan (College of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences) ;
  • Tung, Heng-Hsin (College of Nursing, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences) ;
  • Lee, Ming-Der (Graduate Institute of Long-Term Care, National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences)
  • Published : 2013.07.30

Abstract

The purpose of this descriptive and comparative study was to examine gender differences relevant to pain intensity, opioid prescription patterns and opioid consumption in Taiwanese oncology outpatients. The 92 participants had been prescribed opioid analgesics for cancer-related pain at least once in the past week and were asked to complete the Brief Pain Inventory - Chinese questionnaire and to recall the dosage of each opioid analgesic that they had ingested within the previous 24 hours. For opioid prescriptions and consumption, all analgesics were converted to morphine equivalents. The results revealed a significant difference between males and female minimum pain thresholds (t = 2.38, p = 0.02) and current pain thresholds (t = 2.12, p = 0.04), with males reporting a higher intensity of pain than females. In addition, this study found that males tended to use prescribed opioid analgesics more frequently than females on the bases of both around the clock (ATC) (t = 1.90, p = 0.06) and ATC plus as needed (ATC + PRN) (t = 2.33, p = 0.02). However, there was no difference between males and females in opioid prescriptions on an ATC basis (t = 0.52, p = 0.60) or at an ATC + PRN basis (t = 0.40, p = 0.69). The results suggest that there may be a gender bias in the treatment of cancer pain, supporting the proposal of routine examination of the effect of gender on cancer pain management. These findings suggest that clinicians should be particularly aware of potential gender differences during pain monitoring and the consumption of prescribed opioid analgesics.

Keywords

Cancer;pain;opioids;gender differences;Taiwan outpatients

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