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Pain Research and Management
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 6358624, 14 pages
Review Article

“Brave Men” and “Emotional Women”: A Theory-Guided Literature Review on Gender Bias in Health Care and Gendered Norms towards Patients with Chronic Pain

1Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg SE-405 30, Sweden
2Centre for Healthcare Improvment, Division of Service Management and Logistics, Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg SE-412 96, Sweden

Correspondence should be addressed to Anke Samulowitz

Received 20 October 2017; Revised 13 January 2018; Accepted 21 January 2018; Published 25 February 2018

Academic Editor: Parisa Gazerani

Copyright © 2018 Anke Samulowitz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Despite the large body of research on sex differences in pain, there is a lack of knowledge about the influence of gender in the patient-provider encounter. The purpose of this study was to review literature on gendered norms about men and women with pain and gender bias in the treatment of pain. The second aim was to analyze the results guided by the theoretical concepts of hegemonic masculinity and andronormativity. Methods. A literature search of databases was conducted. A total of 77 articles met the inclusion criteria. The included articles were analyzed qualitatively, with an integrative approach. Results. The included studies demonstrated a variety of gendered norms about men’s and women’s experience and expression of pain, their identity, lifestyle, and coping style. Gender bias in pain treatment was identified, as part of the patient-provider encounter and the professional’s treatment decisions. It was discussed how gendered norms are consolidated by hegemonic masculinity and andronormativity. Conclusions. Awareness about gendered norms is important, both in research and clinical practice, in order to counteract gender bias in health care and to support health-care professionals in providing more equitable care that is more capable to meet the need of all patients, men and women.