Friday Factoid: How Bad Do I Hurt, Mommy: Gender Bias in Adult Perception of Pediatric Pain

Assessing a child’s pain is a crucial aspect of pediatrics. Adults are those who are typically the advocates and voices for children when speaking to doctors about pain and the potential management of such pain. Examination of over 500 online participants determined that there is the potential for bias in stereotyping based on gender (Earp et al., 2019). Participants were presented with a video that showed a 5-year-old having their finger pricked. The child in the video was given a gender-neutral appearance and either called “Samantha” for a girl and “Samuel” for a boy depending on the study condition. Those who rated the boy’s, “Samuel’s,” pain showed that it was significantly higher than the girl’s pain.  Women participants were shown to be more likely than men to underestimate girls’ pain. The researchers proposed an explanation of explicit gender stereotypes of stoicism and tolerance of pain in boys. Conversely, the researches posited that stereotypes assume girls are more emotive, which influenced how adults perceive the child’s pain. Therefore, our perceptions of pain for children may be socially and culturally determined which could impact how parents and others describe children’s experiences to health providers.

Earp, B. D., Monrad, J.T., LaFrance, M., Bargh, J. A., & Cohen, L. L. & Richeson, J. A. (2019). Gender bias in pediatric pain assessment Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 44(4), 403-414.DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsy104

Andrew Goebel, MS, LPA (Temp)
WKPIC Doctoral Intern

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