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Gender Difference in Cancer Patients’ Adherence to Analgesics and Related Outcomes of Pain Management

Chou, Pi-Ling PhD, RN; Fang, Su-Ying PhD, RN; Sun, Jia-Ling PhD, RN; Rau, Kun-Ming MD; Lee, Bih-O PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000532

Background: Males and females have significant differences in certain medical outcomes. However, little research has explored the gender differences in cancer patient perceptions of analgesics, the relationship between gender and analgesic adherence, or the effectiveness of pain management.

Objective: The objectives of this study were to compare gender differences associated with hesitancy to use analgesics, analgesic adherence, or pain management effectiveness and to examine whether gender can precisely predict analgesic adherence.

Methods: The study was conducted in the outpatient oncology department of a medical center in Taiwan. A descriptive and cross-sectional design was used. The study samples were collected from 362 cancer patients. The participants completed the short version of the Barriers Questionnaire–Taiwan, the Morisky Analgesics Adherence Measure–Taiwan version, the Brief Pain Inventory–Chinese version, the Pain Management Index, and a demographic and disease questionnaire.

Results: The pain intensity and hesitancy to use analgesics scores were significantly higher among females than among males. The Pain Management Index results indicated that a larger percentage of males had adequate pain management. In addition, being male was a significant predictor of higher analgesic adherence (odds ratio, 1.93; P < .05).

Conclusions: Gender could precisely predict cancer patients’ medication adherence. Women experienced significantly greater pain than did men but also had more hesitancy to use analgesics, lower adherence, and inadequate pain management.

Implications for Practice: Healthcare professionals should consider women as a high-risk group for inadequate pain control. It is crucial for health providers to consider the gender discrepancy when attempting to improve cancer pain management.

Author Affiliations: School of Nursing, College of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University, Nursing supervisor, Department of Nursing, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital (Dr Chou); Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan (Dr Fang); Department of Nursing, National Taichung University of Science and Technology Taichung (Dr Sun); Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Dr Rau); and Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University of Science and Technology, Chia-Yi Campus, and Department of Nursing, Chia-Yi Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Dr Lee), Taiwan.

Correspondence: Bih-O Lee, PhD, RN, Department of Nursing, Chia-Yi Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 61363, No. 2, Sec W, Jiapu Rd, Puzi City, Chiayi County 613, Taiwan, Republic of China (

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Accepted for publication May 10, 2017.

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