Do women experience more pain than men?

May 14, 2012 at 8:18 a.m.

A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine clearly indicates that women report greater levels of pain than men across dozens of disorders and diseases.

The study shows the degree and different types of pain reported across 47 diagnostic categories, and clearly indicates that women report having greater pain than men. According to Dr. Atul Butte, the senior author of the study, "In several cases [across diagnostic categories], pain was still significantly different regardless of age," indicating that senior women generally do indeed report higher pain levels than senior men.

The advent of Electronic Medical Records (EMR), driven by Federal incentives since 2009, requires medical organizations and health care professionals to convert millions of pages of pen and paper records to electronic format. While less than two percent of paper records have been converted today, the gigantic databases they create are already paying dividends. Stanford's used its STRIDE database, extracting data from 11,000 patients at Stanford hospitals and clinic groups.

The greatest differences between genders were found "in disorders of musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems," according to the study paper. A significant caution to the Stanford study questions whether women feel more pain or are likely to report more pain. Another concern was whether patients had already taken steps to manage pain, perhaps by taking over the counter remedies prior to reporting their pain levels. The research also notes "that pain in women is under-diagnosed and under-treated," encouraging clinicians to take greater note of the pain women suffer.

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