Prospective paired crossover evaluation of potential impact of investigator gender on perceived pain intensity early after acute or scheduled surgery

Anna Sellgren Engskov, Andreas Ydrefors, Karolin el-Jaleb, Jonas Åkeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Postoperative pain is common but often difficult to assess, and there are many potential confounders. Over the last decades, the gender of investigator as well as participant has been found to influence pain perception in both preclinical and clinical studies. However, to our knowledge this has not been studied in various postoperative patients. Objectives of this study were to test the hypotheses that pain intensity levels early after acute or scheduled in- or out-hospital surgery are lower when evaluated by a female investigator, and higher when reported by a female patient. Methods: In this prospective observational paired crossover study, two investigators of opposite genders independently obtained individually reported pain intensity levels with a visual analogue scale in a mixed cohort of adult postoperative study patients at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö, Sweden. Results: In total, 245 (129 female) study patients were included and then one female excluded. The study patients rated their intensity of postoperative pain lower when evaluated by a female than by a male investigator (P = 0.006), where the male patients constituted the significant difference (P < 0.001). Pain intensity levels did not differ between female and male study patients (P = 0.210). Conclusions: Main findings of lower pain intensity reported by males to a female than to a male investigator early after surgery in this paired crossover study in mixed postoperative patients, indicate that potential impact of investigator gender on pain perception should be considered and further evaluated in clinical bedside practice. Trial registration Retrospectively registered in the ClinicalTrials.gov research database on 24th June 2019 with TRN number NCT03968497.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalBiology of Sex Differences
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Anesthesiology and Intensive Care

Free keywords

  • Acute pain
  • Gender identity
  • Medical examiners
  • Pain measurement
  • Postoperative care
  • Postoperative pain
  • Sex
  • Visual Analog Scale

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