This study examines whether the frequency of pain and sedative medication administered to postoperative coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) patients differs according to patient gender. It was hypothesized that nurses medicate patients with pain medication more frequently if they are men than if they are women. It was also hypothesized that nurses medicate female patients with sedative medication more frequently than male patients. The hypotheses in this study were based on a review of the literature indicating that health care professionals hold stereotypic views of women as emotionally labile and more apt to exaggerate complaints of pain than men. The medication records of 30 male and 30 female patients between 44–71 years of age, who had undergone recent CABG surgery, were evaluated in this study. Male and female patients were matched on the basis of age, number of grafts completed in surgery, and location of graft donor sites. All data were obtained through the use of medical records to allow for control of patients' current and past medical history. The frequency of pain and sedative medication administered to these patients from 12 hours postop to 72 hours postop was compared. The results revealed that male patients were administered pain medication significantly more frequently than female patients, and that female patients were administered sedative medication significantly more frequently than male patients. Also, patients 61 years or younger received pain medication significantly more frequently than those patients 62 years and over.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Abelson, J., Cohen, R., Schrayer, D., & Rappeport, M. (1973). Drug experience, attitudes and related behavior among adolescents and adults. In Vol. 1 Appendix by the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
Armitage, K. J., Schneiderman, L. J., & Bass, R. A. (1979). Response of physicians to medical complaints of men and women. JAMA, 241, 2186.
Bernstein, B., & Kane, R. (1981). Physicians' attitudes toward female patients. Medical Care, 19, 600–608.
Bond, M. R., & Pearson, I. B. (1969). Psychological aspects in women with advanced cancer of the cervix. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 13, 13.
Buck, R. W., Miller, R. E., & Caul, W. F. (1974). Sex, personality and physiological variables in the communication of affect via facial expression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 587–596.
Chapman, W. C. (1984). New directions in the understanding and management of pain. Social Science Medicine, 19, 1261–1277.
Clark, W. C., & Mehl, L. (1971). Thermal pain; A sensory decision theory analysis of the effects of age and sex on d', various response criteria, and 50% pain threshold. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 78, 202–212.
Cooperstick, R. (1971). Sex differences in the use of mood-modifying drugs: An explanatory model. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 12, 238.
Craig, K. D. (1984). Psychology of pain. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 60, 260–265.
Cunningham, M. R. (1977). Personality and the structure of the nonverbal communication of emotion. Journal of Personality, 45, 564–583.
Fidell, L. (1975). Drug abuse as an index of stress in women. Paper presented at the National Council of Family Relations, August, 1975.
Fordyce, W. E. (1976). Behavioral methods for chronic pain and illness. St. Louis: C. J. Mosby.
Goolkasian, P. (1985). Phase and sex effects in pain perception: A critical review. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 9, 15–28.
Lawlis, G. F., Achterberg, L., Kenner, L., & Kopetz, K. (1984). Ethnic and sex differences in response to clinical and induced pain in chronic spinal pain patients. Spine, 9, 751–754.
Leibskind, J. C., & Paul, L. A. (1977). Psychological and physiological mechanisms of pain. Annual Review of Psychology, 28, 41–60.
Lewis, C. E., & lewis, M. (1977). The potential impact of sexual equality of health. New England Journal of Medicine, 297, 863.
Lott, B. (1987). Women's lives: Themes and variations in gender learning. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Co.
Luckmann, J., & Sorensen, K. C. (1980). Medical surgical nursing: A psychophysiological approach. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
Nathanson, C. (1975). Illness and the feminine roll: A theoretical review. Social Science Medicine, 9, 57.
Notermans, S. H., & Tophoff, M. (1967). Sex differences in pain tolerance and pain perception. Psychiatrica, Neurologia, Neurochiurgia, 70, 23–29.
Pary, H. J., Balter, Mellinger, Cisin, & Manhiemer. (1973). National patterns of psychotherapeutic drug use. Archives of General Psychiatry, 28, 769–784.
Slade, P., & Jenner, F. A. (1980). Attitudes to female roles, aspects of menstruation and complaining of menstrual symptoms. British Journal of Clinical and Social Psychology, 19, 109–113.
Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. L. (1980). Masculine instrumentality and feminine expressiveness: Their relationships with sex role attitudes and behavior. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 5, 147–163.
Suffet, T., & Brotman, R. E. (1976). Female drug use: Some observations. International Journal of Addiction, 11, 19–33.
Taylor, A. G., Skelton, J. A., & Butcher, J. (1984). Duration of pain condition and physical pathology as determinants of nurses' assessments of patients pain. Nursing Research, 33, 4–8.
Vaughn, K. B., & Lanzetta, J. T. (1980). Vicarious instigation and conditioning of facial expressiveness and automatic responses to a model's expressive display of pain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38, 909–923.
Verbrugge, L. M. (1982). Sex differentials in health. Prevention, 97, 417–435.
Verbrugge, L. M., & Steiner, R. P. (1981). Physicians treatment of men and women patients—Sex bias or inappropriate care? Medical Care, 19, 609–632.
Verbrugge, L. M., & Wingard, D. L. (1987). Sex differentials in health and mortality. Women and Health, 12, 103–143.
Von Baeyer, C. (1982). Repression-sensitization, stress, and perception of pain in others. Perceptual Motor Skills, 55, 315–320.
Von Baeyer, C., Johnson, M. E., & McMillan, M. H. (1984). Consequences of nonverbal expression of pain: Patient distress and observer concern. Social Science Medicine, 19, 1319–1324.
Woodrow, K., Feldman, G., Siegelaub, A., & Collen, M. (1977). Pain tolerance: Difference according to age, sex, and race. Psychosomatic Medicine, 43, 548–555.
A shorter version of this article was presented as a paper at the Association for Women in Psychology National Conference, Newport, Rhode Island, March 9–12, 1989. The author would like to thank Dr. Albert Lott for help on various aspects of this study, as well as Dr. Bernice Lott and Dr. Mary Ellen Reilly for their useful comments.
About this article
Cite this article
Calderone, K.L. The influence of gender on the frequency of pain and sedative medication administered to postoperative patients. Sex Roles 23, 713–725 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00289259
- Medical History
- Female Patient
- Social Psychology
- Male Patient
- Coronary Artery Bypass Graft