Chronic pain and sex differences: Women accept and move, while men feel blue

Graciela Rovner, Katherina S. Sunnerhagen, Ann Björkdahl, Björn Gerdle, Björn Börsbo, Frederik Johansson,, David Gillanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The aim of this study is to explore differences between male and female patients entering a rehabilitation program at a pain clinic in order to gain a greater understanding of different approaches to be used in rehabilitation.

Method: 1371 patients referred to a specialty pain rehabilitation clinic, completed sociodemographic and pain related questionnaires. They rated their pain acceptance (CPAQ-8), their kinesiophobia (TSK), the impact of pain in their life (MPI), anxiety and depression levels (HAD) and quality of life scales: the SF-36, LiSat-11, and the EQ-5D. Because of the large sample size of the study, the significance level was set at the p ≤.01.

Results: Analysis by t-test showed that when both sexes experience the same pain severity, women report significantly higher activity level, pain acceptance and social support while men report higher kinesiophobia, mood disturbances and lower activity level.

Conclusion: Pain acceptance (CPAQ-8) and kinesiophobia (TSK) showed the clearest differences between men and women. Pain acceptance and kinesiophobia are behaviorally defined and have the potential to be changed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Early online date25 Apr 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2017


  • pain
  • measurement
  • clinics
  • sex distribution and differences
  • behavioral medicine
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • chronic pain acceptance questionnaire


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