Gender Differences in Response to Experimental Pain among Medical Students from a Western State of India
Background: Pain is one of the most common reasons for patients to seek medical attention and it causes considerable human suffering. Pain is a complex perception that differs enormously among individual patients. Gender plays an important role in how pain is experienced, coped with and treated. Even young healthy individuals often differ in how they perceive and cope with pain. This study was done to investigate gender differences in response to experimental pain among medical students from a western state in India. Methods: A total of 150 medical students (86 males and 64 females) participated in this interventional study. The Cold Pressor Test was used to exert experimental pain. To study the response, cardiovascular measures (radial pulse, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure) and pain sensitivity parameters (pain threshold, pain tolerance and pain rating) were assessed. Results: No significant difference was found in cardiovascular response to experimental pain between both the genders (p>0.05). Pain threshold and pain tolerance were found to be significantly higher in males whereas pain rating was found to be significantly higher in females (p<0.01). Pulse reactivity showed a negative relationship with pain threshold and pain tolerance whereas a positive relationship with pain rating, however no statistically significant relation was found between these measures. Conclusion: Females display greater pain sensitivity than males. Different pain perception might account for gender difference in pulse reactivity.
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