To examine whether men and women with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) differ with respect to pain severity and functioning, pain-related beliefs, or pain-related coping. We hypothesized no significant sex differences in measures of pain and functioning, but that we would observe differences between men and women in how they view and how they cope with FMS-related pain.
A total of 747 women and 48 men with FMS who attended a multidisciplinary treatment program completed the study measures. Analyses of covariance were used to examine sex differences in the study measures, with a P-value of ≤0.01 and at least a moderate effect size (Cohen d≥0.5) required for a difference to be deemed statistically significant.
Men and women did not differ on demographic measures except for their age, with the men in our sample being significantly younger than the women. Consistent with the study hypothesis, the results revealed no sex differences in the measures of pain and functioning. For pain-related beliefs, men were more likely to view pain as reflecting harm, and they were also more likely than women to use activity avoidance as a pain-coping strategy.
The study findings suggest that women and men with FMS may think about and cope with pain somewhat differently, and may therefore benefit from different types of psychosocial pain intervention.