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Culture, Gender, Self-Report of Pain Intensity, and Observed Overt Pain Behavior Survey: Do Physical Therapy Clinicians Nationwide Report a Relationship?

1 May 2001


Background and purpose. Cultural background and gender differences influence the expression of pain. The purpose of our study was to determine whether physical therapists (PTs) are aware of the cultural and gender differences in self-report of pain intensity and observed overt pain behavior. Information on these topics was collected from physical therapy clinicians nationwide through a four-page postal survey.

Method. A four-page survey was mailed to 500 physical therapy clinicians practicing nationwide.

Results. Of the 500 surveys sent, 116 (23.2%) were returned. Physical therapy clinicians who participated in this study indicated that there was a significant difference between cultural groups when they self-report their pain intensity (p< 0.0001). Also significant was the amount of overt pain behavior observed between cultural groups (p< 0.0001). Significant differences were also found between the self-reporting of pain intensity and observed overt pain behavior for males (p=0.0471).

Conclusion and Discussion. Physical therapists' observations of the self-report of pain intensity and amount of overt pain behavior in clients differed for cultural groups and for males. Further studies should be done on this topic. In addition, more education about this important topic should be implemented into current physical therapy programs and continuing education courses.


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