A preponderance of research evidence suggests that there are profound differences between men and women in the prevalence, perception, reporting, and treatment of pain. A newly published study adds to that, finding at the least that women seem less shy than men about reporting their level of pain on standard assessment measures. Whether or not women actually feel greater pain and over a broad range of medical conditions, as suggested by this research, may be uncertain. Many aspects of the study, which relied on analyses of an electronic medical records database, are questionable in terms of clinical significance and external validity.
For their study, a team of researchers from Stanford University led by David Ruau, PhD, accessed electronic medical records for more than 72,000 patients who visited the Stanford Hospital and Clinics during a 4-year period; 2007 to 2010 [Ruau et al. 2012]. Culling the records, they narrowed the reports to 11,000 adult patients with 47 common diagnostic categories for which there was an initial pain-intensity score on an 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS: 0=no pain, 10=worst imaginable pain).