[Gender-based differences in the management of low back pain] Academic Article uri icon


  • Low back pain (LBP) is a well-known reason people worldwide seek medical help and it is a Leading cause of chronic pain and disability among people of working age. Recent research reveals that the female gender is not only a risk factor for developing LBP but it may also influence the management of this common condition. Our objective was to evaluate gender-related differences in the management of LBP patients in a specialized hospital-based chronic pain unit. A cross-sectional survey was carried out through telephone interviews and the hospital computerized database (N = 129). Socio-demographic, Lifestyle, occupational and medical variables were collected, and their association with the frequency of use of five different diagnostic and/or therapeutic modalities was examined using gender stratification. After adjustment for age, religion, socioeconomic data and the number of co-morbid conditions, women were more prone to poly-pharmacy of analgesic medications prescribed in the previous year compared to men (p = 0.024) and exhibited an increased rate of treatment cessations due to adverse effects (p < 0.001). Interestingly, while women tended to utilize more healthcare services besides the pain clinic (p = 0.097), men tended on average to have more visits than women to the pain clinic for their complaints (p = 0.019). Among those who applied for insurance compensation for LBP-related disability, women exhibited increased use of imaging procedures compared to men (p = 0.038). This cross-sectional study reveals gender-related differences in management and health services utilization for treatment of LBP in the chronic pain clinic. If confirmed in other centers, these findings should inspire gender-sensitive resource management of the treatment of chronic pain patients. Moreover, the findings suggest that increased awareness of gender bias when seeking insurance compensation for LBP-related disability is warranted.

publication date

  • July 1, 2014