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AANA J. 2003 Jun;71(3):206-9.

Do nurse anesthetists demonstrate gender bias in treating pain? A national survey using a standardized pain model.

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Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va., USA.


A major responsibility of the nurse anesthetist is providing adequate pain relief. Current research suggests that provider gender, as well as patient gender, may affect the clinical assessment and treatment of pain. Implications of the undertreatment of pain may be avoided if the anesthetist is aware of potential gender bias when approaching a given clinical situation. A postoperative pain scenario and questionnaire regarding proposed pain management was mailed to a random sample of 450 currently practicing Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). Data were analyzed descriptively and qualitatively; 59 female and 74 male CRNAs responded (n = 133). Analgesic medication was used by 131 anesthetists; 124 of these used opiates. Significantly more male CRNAs (P < .05; chi 2) administered benzodiazepines along with the analgesic (21/74 [28%]) than did female CRNAs (11/59 [19%]); male CRNAs were more likely to administer benzodiazepines as part of their clinical management of cases involving males (13/38[34%]) than female patients (8/36 [22%]); however, this difference was not significant. Pain treatment strategies were indistinguishable between male and female anesthetists, as well as between male and female patients. However, gender-based differences in the use of sedation medication in concert with analgesic medication was an unexpected finding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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