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The influence of gender on the frequency of pain and sedative medication administered to postoperative patients


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.

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Author information

Correspondence to Karen L. Calderone.

Additional information

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.

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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).

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  • Medical History
  • Female Patient
  • Social Psychology
  • Male Patient
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft