Impact of physician and patient gender on pain management in the emergency department - A multicenter study

Basmah Safdar, Alan Heins, Peter Homel, James Miner, Martha Neighbor, Paul Desandre, Knox H. Todd, Joel Bartfield, James Ducharme, Tim Mader, Paul DeSandre, Barbara Lock, James Miner, Andrew Chang, Leslie Zun, Paula Tanabe, Christian Vaillancourt, Martha Neighbor, Robert Cox, Jacques LeeThomas Terndrup, Cameron Crandall, Alan Heins, David Fosnocht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Objective. Pain is a complex experience influenced by factors such as age, race, and ethnicity. We conducted a multicenter study to better understand emergency department (ED) pain management practices and examined the influence of patient and provider gender on analgesic administration. Design: Prospective, multicenter, observational study. Setting. Consecutive patients, ≥8-years-old, presenting with complaints of moderate to severe pain (pain numerical rating scale [NRS]>3) at 16 U.S. and three Canadian hospitals. Outcomes Measures.Receipt of any ED analgesic, receipt of opioids, and adequate pain relief in the ED. Results. Eight hundred forty-two patients participated including 56% women. Baseline pain scores were similar in both genders. Analgesic administration rates were not significantly different for female and male patients (63% vs 57%, P = 0.08), although females presenting with severe pain (NRS≥8) were more likely to receive analgesics (74% vs 64%, P = 0.02). Female physicians were more likely to administer analgesics than male physicians (66% vs 57%, P = 0.009). In logistic regression models, predictors of ED analgesic administration were male physician (odds ratio [OR] = 0.7), arrival pain (OR=1.3), number of pain assessments (OR=1.83), and charted follow-up plans (OR=2.16). With regard to opioid administration, female physicians were more likely to prescribe opioids to females (P = 0.006) while male physicians were more likely to prescribe to males (P = 0.05). In logistic regression models, predictors of opioids administration included male patient gender (OR = 0.58), male patient-physician interaction (OR=2.58), arrival pain score (OR = 1.28), average pain score (OR = 1.10), and number of pain assessments (OR = 1.5). Pain relief was not impacted by gender. Conclusion. Provider gender as opposed to patient gender appears to influence pain management decisions in the ED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-372
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Analgesics
  • Emergencies
  • Emergency service, Hospital
  • Pain management
  • Patient gender
  • Physician gender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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